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Damselfish Keepers Guide

Though nominally labeled easy to keep, some damsels can be ferocious in aquaria.

By Bob Goemans

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Damselfishes are among the most popular fishes in the marine aquarium hobby because they are fairly small, inexpensive and quite colorful. There are a total of 321 species that comprise the damselfish family Pomacentridae, which consists of four subfamilies, all of which resides in the order Perciformes and suborder Labroidei. They are probably the most widespread family of reef fishes, occurring in every tropical sea in the world. And even though some aquarists do not think of anemonefishes (aka clownfishes) as being damselfishes, they are indeed one of the four subfamilies (i.e., Amphiprioninae). The other three subfamilies within the damselfish family — Chrominae, Lepidozyginae and Pomacentrinae — contain what aquarists generally think of as damselfishes.

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