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FAQs about the Damsels of the genus Neopomacentrus

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A Neopomacentrus

Damselfish Identification - Neopomacentrus; & BR use         11/20/19
Good evening,
<Hi Joel>
I was at a local fish store today and came across these two lovely looking Damselfish in the store's batch of "Assorted Damsels". I've only been keeping saltwater fish for a short period of time, but have sufficient experience in brackish fishkeeping to tentatively identify them as Freshwater Demoiselles (Neopomacentrus taeniurus). I've never seen them before in person and pictures online of the related N. cyanomos sometimes appear similar, so I was hoping you might be able to verify for me.
<These appear to be Neopomacentrus taeniurus>
Sadly, I don't think they are appropriate for either of my tanks. My 125 gallon brackish tank at 1.006 may be too "fresh" and may squabble with the 8 Orange Chromides in it. On the other hand, I'd worry that it would fight with my Talbot's Damsel in my 55 gallon saltwater.
In either case, just seeing this rare (to me) Damsel was enough of a treat.
Thank you for your time.
<Am going to ask Neale Monks here to respond re Pomacentrids for brackish systems. His background w/ such systems is extensive. Bob Fenner>
Re: Damselfish Identification - Neopomacentrus /Neale        11/20/19

Hello Bob, Joel,
Yep, agree with the identification of your damselfish as Neopomacentrus taeniurus, but with the cautious that there are other species, such as Stegastes otophorus, that do look quite similar (especially the yellow tail). That said, Neopomacentrus taeniurus does have a more deeply-forked tail, suggesting your initial identification may well be correct.
I’ve seen Neopomacentrus taeniurus kept in freshwater tanks where they had been in situ for at least six months, seemingly without harm. Companions including Corydoras catfish and Angelfish of all things, and while the water was certainly hard, it wasn’t salted. I suspect 1.006 will probably be tolerated perfectly well, as these are truly euryhaline fish rather than marine fish that happen to handle brackish water for longer or shorter periods (as would be the case with, for example, Sergeant Majors). In some places (including various oceanic Pacific islands) they inhabit completely freshwater habitats alongside classic peripheral freshwater fish types like Gobies that, in common with Neopomacentrus, have a marine reproductive stage but as adults inhabit freshwater environments. I believe Neopomacentrus taeniurus breed in the sea, however, rather than spawning in freshwater and leaving their eggs to drift into the sea. Hence finding Neopomacentrus taeniurus in freshwater, brackish, and fully marine habitats.
My understanding is that they’re often found in harbours, estuaries, and tidally-influenced rivers and streams, often quite murky ones (hence their drab colouration). Water depth is rarely very great (less than 3m by one source). Allen refers to them as dwellers of ‘inshore reefs’ so I guess your classic coastal rocky reefs with oysters and mangroves rather than offshore coral reefs seem to be their preferred habitat. My guess would be that they’re much like various Apogon and Gobiidae species that are found in such places: perfectly well adapted to varying salinity, able to handle low salinity, even freshwater, for extended periods, but probably happiest (in the sense of being able to spawn successfully) when kept in mid to high end brackish conditions or fully marine salinities.
They are planktivores by nature, but consume all the usual foods that you’d give small Damselfish.
I agree, Orange Chromides would likely be viewed as a competitor. There’s no particular reason you couldn’t accommodate both given sufficient hiding places, but you’d certainly want to plan ahead. I don’t know enough about Neopomacentrus generally to comment on their social behaviour towards other Damsels in a marine aquarium, but would imagine Neopomacentrus taeniurus are par for the genus. Possibly Bob can add more here.
<The genus is more toward the easygoing spectrum of damsel territoriality; not quite Chromis. I do consider, as you've stated re habitat, that they should co-exist w/ Chromides.>
That pretty much covers what I know! The problem is they’re hardly ever imported, and almost never kept in freshwater or brackish systems. I’m not aware of any long term records beyond what I’ve reported above!
I’d be tempted to try them out with the Orange Chromides, and as/when they mature, if they start looking seedy, or else behave abominably, then move them into a more rough and tumble FOWLR system.
Cheers, Neale
<Thank you, BobF>


Damsel color change? No image I bought a tank from a guy who was getting out of the hobby... it was a 50 gallon tank with 1 6" Jeweled damsel, <A bruiser here for sure> two Clarkiis (3" and 3.5"), 1 cleaner wrasse (dimidiatus), 1 coral beauty (1.5"), 1 Bristletooth Tang (4"), 1 scopas tang (3.5"), and one 2" unknown damsel. I've quarantined the cleaner, coral beauty, and scopas to move to my 150 gallon (currently 2 ocellaris, 1 canary wrasse... note the lack of the "Coris" misnomer :)... <Ok... though I doubt this Halichoeres minds... I don't> 1 2.5" starry eyed blenny, and two blue neon gobies. Unfortunately, the Bristletooth didn't make it:( My question concerns the "unknown" damsel. He's a dark indigo (almost a dull black) except for his yellow tail that extends beyond the tail to encompass the back fringe of the dorsal and ventral fins. He also has blue edging on some fins. <Photo please... or maybe a trip by you to a large library (likely college with Bio./Zoo. dept., for a look/see at Gerald Allen's works... oh, or a perusal through the Pomacentrid family pix on Fishbase.org... http://fishbase.org/identification/specieslist.cfm?famcode=350&areacode=> Do the traditional blue yellowtailed damsel have a darker adult stage like the jeweled damsel? <Traditional? Mmmm, no> Any idea what this might be? Thanks for all you guys do!! Scott <Take a look-see at the linked file... and/or send a pic or two please. Bob Fenner> <Oh, I do see the pix included... This does look like a Neopomacentrus species... maybe Neopomacentrus violascens... search re... What do you think? BobF. >

Re: Damsel color change?  Neopomacentrus f', Lg. Angel sel.     2/22/09 Looks like you nailed it!! Thanks! Any different behavior for this species? <Different? This is one of the genera of Damsels that are neither totally solitary/territorial, nor schooling-social... sort of mean, but not totally stand-offish> The one I have is VERY shy and retiring... but I think being overcrowded, including a couple bruisers (the 2 Clarkiis and the 6" jeweled damsel may not have given him much choice. <Agreed> BTW the cleaner (who IS eating well and looking very healthy... thank goodness), the coral beauty and the scopas have successfully made the transition to my 150 gallon. Think they really appreciate the extra room. Unrelated question, in the 150, besides the scopas, false Percs (2), canary wrasse, starry eyed blenny, coral beauty, and cleaner wrasse, was thinking of adding (over time) a threadfin butterfly, a Naso, and a large angel. Initially was looking into King/Passer, but after further consideration and reading, think maybe too large/aggressive for a 150gallon. Any suggestions for a smaller (reasonably priced:) large angel? <Mmm, my best choice here... A Koran, P. semicirculatus. Bob Fenner>

Neopomacentrus azysron? (damsel id) Hello folks-<Hi Steve, MacL here> I hope you have patience for one more Damsel ID query-<Always and this was an interesting one for me.> Does this resemble Neopomacentrus azysron? <It does very closely resemble it. However, and azysron is characterized by a solid yellow tail.  Sadly i had to rule that out since yours has the blue or black lines on the tail.> Happy to say it's been very happy in my tank for more than two years- frustrated that I can't quite nail the id after many web searches. <I must say I have gone around and around with it myself. Some of the other crew feels it is a Neopomacentrus cyanomos (The "Regal Demoiselle").  I see similarities with the Crescent or regal damsel but if it is its not from the indo-pacific but instead from another area and might possibly be a color morph. Indonesian fish metallic green to black with a distinctive white spot at end on dorsal fin base. That's not your fish at all.  However there are a couple of pictures that are similar to it when you click on the fishbase picture.> It displays what appears to be non-hostile (flirtatious?) fin-splaying behavior around my GSM female; even huddles with my GSM pair when frightened. About 3", not counting the long streamers on the end of its tail- just a bit of yellow on the inner part of the tail and bottom fin- not as much as appears on fishbase specimen photos-  any ideas? thanks very much! <Personally I think it might be a cross of some kind.  But that's just my opinion.  Take a look at the regal or crescent damsel in www.fishbase.org and see what you think. MacL>

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