Damselfish Care Guide – Types, Breeding & More

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The Damselfish is part of the Pomacentridae family, which consists of more than 250 unique species. 

This fish is known for its vibrant appearance, which can really brighten up your aquarium. This is a great option to consider if you are a beginner, but you still need to know the basics.

Types of Damselfish

1. Yellowtail Damselfish

The Yellowtail Damselfish has a shimmering blue body and a yellow tail, hence the name. These fish are typically around three inches when fully matured. One of the great things about this particular species is that it is very docile with a mellow personality.

2. Blue Damselfish

Blue Damselfish have a neon blue body with small areas of yellow at either end. They too grow to be about three inches long. When these fish detect a threat, they turn black as a way of disguising themselves from predators.

3. Azure Damselfish

The Azure Damselfish has a very unique appearance that consists of a blue top half and a bright orange bottom half. They also have large bulging eyes. Despite the somewhat grumpy expression of these fish, they are actually quite peaceful.

4. Domino Damselfish

The Domino Damselfish has white spots on various parts of its body. It is a bit larger than most other species, growing to around five inches once fully matured. It is also known for being fairly aggressive.

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The overall behavior of Damselfish varies depending on the species. Some of these fish are very docile, while others are very aggressive. It is therefore important that you take the time to look into some of the different species options before deciding on one in particular.

These fish have a reputation for being fairly territorial, which is why it can be difficult to find suitable tank mates for them. They tend to bully smaller, more timid fish in the same tank. The larger species spend a lot of time at the top of the tank, while the smaller ones tend to stay near the bottom.

Natural Habitat

Damselfish can be naturally found in freshwater bodies that are located in temperate climates where the weather is warm throughout the year. This includes the Pacific Mexican coast and the coast of southern California. They prefer brackish waters that have a good amount of vegetation.

Damselfish Care Guide

1. Tank Setup

The size of the tank you will need is going to depend on the species of Damselfish you get. A Blue Damselfish needs to be kept in a minimum 30 gallon tank. If you are going to get a larger species that are closer to five inches, you’ll need a 50 gallon tank. If you keep upwards of four of these fish, a 100 gallon tank is required.

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 Putting these fish in a tank that is too small can end their life quickly. It is especially to give larger species a big tank, as they can be aggressive and territorial.

Use sand or some other soft material for the substrate in your tank, especially if the species you have spends most of its time at the bottom.

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2. Water Conditions

The temperature of the water in your Damselfish’s tank should be kept between 73 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit. It should also have a pH level of 8.1 to 8.4. You should use a very powerful filter, as these fish are native to slow-moving waters.

3. Damselfish Tank Mates

Finding compatible tank mates for these fish can be a bit tricky, particularly if you choose an aggressive/territorial species. In this case, some of the best tank mate options include Dottybacks, Tangs, Clownfish, and the Dwarf angelfish.

If you have a smaller, more peaceful Damselfish, you’ll want to keep it with other fish of a similar size and temperament.

4. Damselfish Food

You will be able to give your Damselfish dry food like flakes, as well as live food like worms, brine shrimp, and even squid. Make sure that they have a balanced diet so they stay healthy. Keep in mind that the bigger species tend to feed in the higher part of the water column. There are some species of these fish that are herbivores, so you have to do your research before making any final decisions on what to feed them.

Common Health Problems

These fish aren’t particularly prone to disease, but they can die when exposed to water that contains excessive levels of ammonia. This is why it is so important for you to check the levels in your tank on a regular basis.

When these fish become sick, they typically change color. If you notice this happening, it is important to take action right away.

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Damselfish Breeding

Before you start trying to breed Damselfish, you’ll want to keep in mind that doing so can be quite challenging. It is important that you have a separate tank for this explicit purpose. Once the female lays her eggs, they will have anywhere from three to seven days. It is crucial that you remove the parents from the tank so they do not eat their offspring. You will only be able to start breeding these fish when they reach full maturity, which takes two to three years.


  • There are many different species of Damselfish, and they vary greatly in terms of size, temperament, and color.
  • The Domino Damselfish is one of the largest of these species, measuring five inches once it is fully matured.
  • Some of these fish are very calm and peaceful, while others can be very aggressive and territorial.
  • If you are going to keep one of these fish, you will need a minimum 30 gallon tank. Larger species like the Blue Damselfish will require a 50 gallon tank.
  • These fish need lots of space when they are kept together, especially the larger species that tend to be territorial.
  • Keep the temperature of the water in the tank between 73 and 81 degrees at all times.
  • Larger damselfish can be kept with clownfish, dottybacks, and certain angelfish.
  • It is best to give your damselfish a combination of dry flakes and live foods, such as brine shrimp and squid.