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Clowns, Damsels, & Chromis

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General Information

Damselfishes are divided into two distinct groups, which include the “true” Damselfishes and the Anemonefishes (more commonly known as Clownfishes). All species are small, colorful, found in shallow tropical and temperate waters around the world and share the characteristic of having a single nostril on each side of the snout. Most Damselfishes have an aggressive, territorial nature, especially during reproductive seasons when males guard nests of eggs laid by the females.

True Damsels can be found bobbing constantly around coral heads, using them as a place to retreat when threatened. Those that are round in shape with rounded tails usually live near the bottom of the reef and oval-shaped species (Chromis) with deeply forked tails typically school in mid-water. Clownfishes stand out from the rest of the Damselfishes by their appearance and association with anemones. They have a protective mucus coating that allows them to live among the anemone’s stinging tentacles that protect them from predators. All Damselfishes (including Clownfishes) are opportunistic feeders and most have a diet that consists almost entirely of (zoo)plankton.

Aquarium Care & Feeding

Clownfishes and Damselfishes represent the essence of tropical marine fishkeeping as they are brightly colored, full of character, and relatively easy to keep, and can live for many years in a well-maintained aquarium. Many hobbyists would not consider an aquarium complete without one. While most Damsels remain wild caught, Clownfishes are easy to spawn and raise in captivity and many commercially-bred species are now readily available. In the aquarium, these fishes will accept nearly all varieties of size-appropriate live and processed foods for marine fish. All species should consume dry foods readily.