11 Types of Damselfish Species (with Images)

Damselfish fish species are pretty popular among aquarists with reef tanks. Not only is this species hardy and sustainable, but they also prevent algal growth in your corals.

Most damselfish are bottom feeders. So they can protect your plants from parasitic infestation as well.

The species is also relatively inexpensive and isn’t a picky eater. However, beginner aquarists lose their pet fish due to a lack of knowledge.

To avoid mishaps and maintain your reef tank, keep reading!

What is Damselfish?

Damselfish is tropical marine fish of the Pomacentridae family under the order incertae sedis in the subseries Ovalentaria in clade Percomorpha. About 250 types of this species are found mainly in the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific oceans.

Most of them are territorial, active, and diurnal. They all have two anal spines and are brilliantly colored.

An interesting fact is that some of the damselfish species exhibit sequential hermaphroditism, which means all juvenile fish are born with a particular gender, and some of them transform into a different gender.

They are pretty hardy and disease-resistant, which makes them perfect for beginner fish keepers.

What are the types of Damselfish?

There are 11 different types of Damselfish that we have covered in this article. They are:

1. Sergeant Major Damselfish (Abudefduf saxatilis)

Sergeant major damselfish
  • Average Size: Up to 15.0 cm (5.91 in)
  • Average Lifespan: Up to 6 years (in the wild), 10-15 years (in captivity)
  • Tank Level: Middle to bottom dwellers
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Diet: Omnivorous but tends to be carnivorous
  • Tank Mates: 4-5 other sergeant major damselfish when young; only one mated pair when adult
  • Minimum Tank Size: 180 gallons

How does Sergeant Major Damselfish look?

Sergeant Major Damselfish fish has a greenish-yellow color on its back which fades into a white on its belly. It has 5 dark bold and conspicuous vertical black stripes that begin on its back and becomes narrow towards the belly.

A sixth stripe is often observed on its caudal peduncle as a black spot on the pectoral fin’s upper base.

The adult male fish becomes dark bluish while guarding eggs, making the black bars less prominent.

It is protandric, i.e., male at birth, and while growing up, some turn into females.

2. Green Chromis (Chromis viridis)

Green chromis closeup
  • Size: 5.0-5.6 cm (1.97-2.2 in)
  • Average Lifespan: 3-8 years (in the wild), 8-15 years (in captivity)
  • Tank Level: Bottom-dweller
  • Temperament: Peaceful, except when spawning
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Mates: Peaceful fish like gobies, clownfish, assessors, dartfish, and fairy wrasses, 5-6 other green chromis
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

How does Green Chromis look?

Green Chromis fish is apple green and light blue in color but while breeding the males have a yellowish tinge. It also has a silvery white spot near its eye.

Its body is compact and slightly deep and slender. It also has a forked tail fin. Due to its body shape, it can swim fast and keep up with larger schools of fish.

The male feasts on the remaining unhatched eggs at the end of the incubation period. It prevents them from becoming microorganism breeding sites and endangering the small fry.

3. Yellowtail Damselfish (Chrysiptera parasema)

Yellowtail damselfish
  • Average Size: Up to 4.0 cm (1.57 in)
  • Average Lifespan: 3-4 years (in the wild), up to 15 years (in captivity)
  • Tank Level: Bottom-dweller
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Mates: Alone or with mated pair
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons for one, 55 gallons for two

How does Yellowtail Damselfish look?

Yellowtail damselfish’s body is blue with a yellow caudal fin. This yellow coloration extends until the back of the dorsal and anal fins.

However, the color of the deep-bodied fish varies for each fish. Some of them only have a yellow tail fin. Some may have just a yellow pectoral fin, while others have yellow pelvic fins. So, they are often mistaken for other species for this distinct feature.

It’s a protogynous fish, i.e., born female and some grow to be males.

4. Blue Damselfish (Chrysiptera cyanea)

Electric blue damselfish
  • Average Size: Up to 4.0 cm (1.57 in)
  • Average Lifespan: 2-6 years (in the wild), up to 15 years (in captivity)
  • Tank Level: Middle to bottom-dwellers
  • Temperament: Aggressive towards own and smaller or peaceful species
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Mates: Dominant and larger fish (angelfish, triggerfish, clownfish). No other blue damselfish
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons for one

Why is Blue Damselfish popular?

Blue damselfish fish is popular for its brilliant blue color. Males have bright yellow or orange snouts and tails and lack the black spot. Females and juveniles have a small black spot near their dorsal fin rear base and lack yellow marks.

This deep-bodied elongated fish has a dark stripe across its eye region. The adult female develops a black spot near the base of its hindmost dorsal ray. Its fins are transparent.

The fish is protogynous, i.e., female since birth and some transition into male in adulthood.

They are extremely territorial, so stay alert if you keep them with other fish.

5. Azure Damselfish (Chrysiptera hemicyanea)

Azure damselfish
  • Average Size: Up to 5.0 cm (1.97 in)
  • Average Lifespan: 4-6 years (in the wild), up to 15 years (in captivity)
  • Tank Level: Middle to bottom-dwellers
  • Temperament: Aggressive towards other species
  • Diet: Omnivorous & planctophage
  • Tank Mates: 4 other Azure damselfish
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons for 5

How does Azure Damselfish look?

Azure damselfish, a deep-bodied fish, usually has a bright blue body with a bright yellow to gold bottom. The yellow coloration varies with the genus.

The yellow shade stretches throughout the chest, abdomen, and caudal peduncle. You will see many vertical black lines and light blue spots right below the eye in the blue area.

Out of all the fins, only the dorsal fin is blue. The fish also has a black spot near the base of its pectoral fin.

It is protogynous, so all young fry are born female. But some grow into males.

The fish population can double in 15 months.

6. Blue Reef Chromis (Chromis cyanea)

Blue reef chromis closeup
  • Average Size: Up to 12.7 cm (5.00 in)
  • Average Lifespan: Minimum 5 years (in captivity)
  • Tank Level: Adults stay near the top; young fry are bottom-dwellers
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Mates: Other peaceful species of equal size, 5 females with 1 male of this species
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

How does Blue Reef Chromis look?

Blue reef chromis is identified by its bright blue body with black-striped dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. Its body is compressed and oval in shape. It has a small and terminal mouth. Its dorsal fins are continuous and the tail is forked.

Sexual dimorphism is visible in males and females only during spawning. The female fish turns light blue, and the male fish shows a swollen belly and protruding white genital papilla.

Their dark eyes make them stand out from similar-looking fish.

7. Three Spot Domino Damselfish (Dascyllus trimaculatus)

Three spot damselfish
  • Average Size: Up to 13.0 cm (5.12 in)
  • Average Lifespan: Up to 10 years (in captivity)
  • Tank Level: Bottom-dwellers
  • Temperament: Moderately aggressive
  • Diet: Omnivorous, tends to be carnivorous
  • Tank Mates: 4 fish of the same species
  • Minimum Tank Size: 90 gallons for 5

How does Three Spot Domino damselfish look?

The three spot domino juvenile damselfish is usually black overall with a bluish scale center. There’s a white blotch on its forehead and upper sides. Fins are entirely black except for the pectoral and outer regions of soft dorsal rays, which are transparent.

The body color varies in adults; no spots on the forehead and upper side spots are reduced. Scales have black margins, head and fins are black.

They also have finely serrated preorbital, suborbital, and preoperculum margins. During courtship and mating, its color becomes paler.

It has a circular body which makes it much slower than other damselfish species. That’s why it is often spotted near its host coral.

It also has a white spot on its forehead, either side of its upper back, and below the dorsal fin. As it matures, these spots fade away.

This fish emits sounds that are audible to human ears. This fish is also protogynous.

8. Blue Velvet Damselfish (Neoglyphidodon oxyodon)

Blue velvet damselfish
  • Average Size: Up to 8.0 cm (3.15 in)
  • Average Lifespan: 5-6 years (in the wild), up to 15 years (in captivity)
  • Tank Level: Middle to bottom-dwellers
  • Temperament: Moderately Aggressive
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Mates: Other larger, peaceful and slightly territorial fishes like angelfish, tangs, or wrasses
  • Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons for 5 fish

How does Blue Velvet Damselfish look?

The adult blue velvet damselfish is grayish-black in color. The juvenile fish is much more colorful, with a dark blue with light yellow spots or stripes. It also has blue stripes that fade as it grows. They are ovoid in shape.

Compared to other damselfish, this one has a much more streamlined shape. All of its fins are pointed except the tail fin, which is rounded.

The appearance change starts when the fish grows to around 5.00-6.35 cm (2.00-2.50 in).

The fish is protogynous.

Unless breeding, it is always found in groups and not with a mate.

9. Jewel Damselfish (Microspathodon chrysurus)

Jewel damselfish
  • Average Size: Up to 17.8 cm (7.00 in)
  • Average Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Tank Level: Middle to upper levels
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Mates: Bigger and more aggressive fish
  • Minimum Tank Size: 50-55 gallons

How does Jewel Damselfish look?

The adult jewel damselfish is dark yellowish brown with darker scale edges and a bright yellow tail. The young jewel damselfish is dark blue with a transparent tail and electric blue spots on its sides.

The tail of the fish is transparent since birth. But as it grows, the tail turns yellowish.

The male damselfish builds the nest on dead corals.

The fish reproduces the most between the full and new moon.

10. Four Stripe Damselfish (Dascyllus melanurus)

Four stripe damselfish
  • Average Size: Up to 7.62 cm (3.00 in)
  • Average Lifespan: Around 6-10 years
  • Tank Level: Middle to upper levels
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Mates: Preferably kept alone or with a mate. Other larger aggressive fish like triggerfish and large angels.
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons for one fish; 55 gallons for mated pairs.

How does the four stripe damselfish look?

The body of four stripe damselfish has three alternate black and white stripes from the nose. The fourth black stripe is on the tail.

Moreover, its color changes to white when they breed. The male fish often bobs up and down during breeding and makes noise. The female fish changes color when she accepts the mating call and gets together with the male.

The adult and juvenile fish have the same color. But, the adults sometimes turn dusky in the white bars.

It’s difficult to breed them in captivity.

11. Talbot’s Damselfish (Chrysiptera talboti)

Talbot's damselfish
  • Average Size: Up to 5.6 cm (2.09 in)
  • Average Lifespan: 2-6 years (in the wild), up to 15 years (in captivity)
  • Tank Level: Middle to bottom-dweller
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Mates: Same species, other peaceful and semi-aggressive fish
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons for one; add 15 gallons for every additional fish

How does a talbot damselfish look?

The talbot damselfish fish has a yellow head and ventral fins. It also has a large black spot right behind the dorsal fin. The yellow shade extends from its mouth up to the head and back to the top of the dorsal fin on the top. Whereas, in the bottom, the shade continues past the gill plates.

Moreover, it has a pearly grey, purple, or light pink body color. Its body is elongated and deep-bodied and the dorsal and anal fins are pretty tall.

It acts cowardly around more aggressive damselfish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Damselfish aggressive?

Damselfish species have always been known to be aggressive. Except for a few, most types harass timid tankmates and might even bite your hand.

How many damselfish should be kept in a tank?

In a minimum 20-gallon tank, 3 damselfish can stay together. You can keep small groups of blue damselfish with one male and the remaining females.

Can damselfish live with clownfish?

Yes, damselfish can tolerate clownfish, but only if there’s enough space for each to have its own territory.

What do damselfish eat?

The damselfish thrives on a diet of pellets, flakes, and frozen and freeze-dried food. They need variety for a balanced diet.

A word from FishInAquarium

Damselfish isn’t just eye candy to make your tank attractive. It brings many advantages to your tank only if you can handle all the necessary requirements.

Hopefully, that answered most of your questions about this species, and if it did, don’t forget to forward the page to other fish enthusiasts.

And, of course, if you have any other questions, feel free to email us!

Minnie B Miller - Professional aquarist and owner of FishInAquarium

About Minnie B Miller

Minnie B. Miller, a professional aquarist and owner of FishInAquarium, has over 8 years of expertise in fish breeding and care, gained through her roles at AquaticTX and Sea Lion Landing. Having honed her skills with various aquatic species, she is dedicated to empowering fellow enthusiasts by sharing her knowledge and experience.