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Farming Damsels

These hardy damselfish cultivate and defend their algae farms.

By Scott W. Michael |

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The damselfishes (family Pomacentridae) comprise one of the largest families of coral reef fish, with more than 330 species. Most of these fishes inhabit tropical reef environments, and a number of them make their way into local fish stores. There are good reasons for their omnipresence in the aquarium trade. One of their best selling points is their extreme hardiness. They also tend to stay small, with many never exceeding 4 inches in total length. As a result, most can be housed in small to moderate-sized aquariums. And some of the damsels are unrivaled in chromatic splendor. But not all damsels are highly desirable for the smaller home aquarium. One group of pomacentrids that has a dubious reputation among experienced fishkeepers are the algae-farming damsels. That said, they may have a place in a specialized aquarium system. I’ll focus on the amazing behavior of the farming damselfishes, how they impact coral reefs, and some of the pros and cons that go along with keeping them in our captive oceans.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the January 2011 issue of Aquarium Fish International today.

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