Cocoa damselfish (Stegastes variabilis).

Damselfish[1] comprise the family Pomacentridae except those of the genera Amphiprion and Premnas. They can grow up to 14 inches (36 cm) long. While most are marine, a few species inhabit the lower stretches of rivers in freshwater. Damselfish usually have bright colors.

Neon damselfish from East Timor.

Many species live in tropical coral reefs, and many of those are kept as marine aquarium pets, although not the white-spotted damselfish. Diet includes small crustaceans, plankton, and algae. However, many also live in temperate climates, such as the species which inhabits the coast of southern California and the Pacific Mexican coast, the garibaldi.

Aquarists often use damselfish to biologically stabilize a new aquarium. The fish is introduced when the aquarium is first populated, and helps provide beneficial bacteria. This practice is viewed negatively by some aquarists because of what they see as foul conditions and the fact other, slower, stabilization methods exist.

In the wild, the damselfish (Stegastes nigricans) cultivates red filamentous algae (Polysiphonia).[2] At this time, garibaldi and damselfish are the only fish known to engage in farming or cultivating.

There is geographic variation in the damselfish/red-alga cultivation mutualism in the Indo-West Pacific.[2] Damselfish are also known to be aggressive, especially the twospot domino damsel[3]


  1. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). "Pomacentridae" in FishBase. April 2006 version.
  2. ^ a b Damselfish Are Also Known To Be Aggressive Especially The Twospot Domino Damsel BC-85.
  3. ^ BC-85 Biome Central.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • damselfish — n. small brilliantly colored tropical marine fishes of coral reefs. Syn: demoiselle. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • damselfish — [dam′zəlfish΄] n. pl. damselfish or damselfishes (see FISH) any of a percoid family (Pomacentridae) of small, rough scaled, brightly colored tropical reef fishes …   English World dictionary

  • damselfish — /dam zeuhl fish /, n., pl. (esp. collectively) damselfish, (esp. referring to two or more kinds or species) damselfishes. any of several chiefly tropical, brilliantly colored, marine fishes of the family Pomacentridae, living among coral reefs.… …   Universalium

  • damselfish — /ˈdæmzəlfɪʃ/ (say damzuhlfish) noun (plural damselfish or damselfishes) any small tropical fish of the family Pomacentridae, with a brightly coloured, laterally compressed body. Usage: For variation in the plural inflection, see note at fish1 …   Australian English dictionary

  • damselfish — noun Date: 1904 any of numerous often brilliantly colored marine fishes (family Pomacentridae) living especially along coral reefs called also demoiselle …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • damselfish — noun Any of a number of fish in the Pomacentridae taxonomic family …   Wiktionary

  • damselfish — n. tropical colored ocean fish …   English contemporary dictionary

  • damselfish — noun (plural same or damselfishes) a small brightly coloured tropical fish living near coral reefs. [Chromis chromis and other species.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • damselfish — dam•sel•fish [[t]ˈdæm zəlˌfɪʃ[/t]] n. pl. (esp. collectively) fish, (esp. for kinds or species) fish•es. ich any of several brilliantly colored coral reef fishes of the family Pomacentridae Also called demoiselle • Etymology: 1900–05 …   From formal English to slang

  • damselfish —    Ā ( a ā), mokumoku hā nui (hānui), ālo ilo i (lo ilo i).   Cf. ala ihi …   English-Hawaiian dictionary

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