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Chrysiptera cyanea, Blue Devil Damselfish. Scott W. Michael


Native range:

Taxonomic rank: Family

Common name: Damselfishes, Chromis, Sergeants, and Anemonefishes

Total known Total profiles
Subfamilies 4 1
Genera 28 12
Species 348 31

Pomacentrids belong to the Suborder Labroidei, which includes the popular freshwater fish family known as cichlids (Cichlidae), the surfperches (Family Embiotocidae), the wrasses (Labridae), and the parrotfishes (Scaridae).

The damselfishes have a deep, compressed body with a small mouth, an incomplete or interrupted lateral line, a toothless palate, and a single continuous dorsal fin. The largest pomacentrid reaches 35 cm (13.8 in.).

The Subfamily Amphiprioninae (anemonefishes) includes some of the most popular aquarium fishes. They are well known for the symbiotic relationship they form with sea anemones. These anemonefishes have a serrated opercle, and most have 10 dorsal spines (9 or 11 observed in some species). There are 2 genera and 26 species (some include Amphiprion leucokranos as a distinct species, although data indicates this is a hybrid). Most of these are colorful and many have white bands on the head or body.

The Subfamily Chrominae contains 4 genera and 87 species, many of which are obligatory stony coral dwellers that feed on passing plankton. Some of these have deep bodies with a truncate tail (e.g., Dascyllus), while others are more elongate with a forked caudal fin.

The Subfamily Lepidozyginae includes one planktivorous species that forms shoals. This fish, known as the Fusilier Damselfish (Lepidozygus tapeinosoma), is also a social mimic, adopting the color patterns of other shoaling zooplanktivores (especially anthias, Pseudanthias spp.).

The Subfamily Pomacentrinae is the most speciose group, consisting of 21 genera with about 199 species. Most of these fishes are territorial, defending a feeding territory from conspecifics and other food competitors. These fishes actively “farm” their territories, which greatly increases the productivity of their algal lawn. Many of these damselfishes lay demersal eggs, which the male tends and protects.

Captive care: The damselfishes are durable and often-colorful aquarium inhabitants. The only drawback with these fishes is that some can be very aggressive, terrorizing other fishes and making it difficult to achieve a social balance in the confines of a tank. Damselfishes are accustomed to darting for cover to avoid predation, and they should be provided with a habitat that contains numerous hiding places.

Feeding: Omnivores. Offer a varied diet that includes meaty foods and plenty of plant material.

Notes: Other Advice: Know the difference between damselfish species to avoid buying bullies or fishes that are beautiful as juveniles but that become drably colored and aggressive as adults. Do not try to keep members of the genus Stegastes or Eupomacentrus in a peaceful community aquarium or with small-polyped stony corals (they may nip off the polyps to farm filamentous algae). Keep members of the genus Chromis in shoals and do not house them with overly aggressive tankmates.




Reference: Reef Fishes Volume 1
Image credit: SWM
Text credit: SWM