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A Rainbow of Peaceful Damsels

In the article you will find some basic information on A Rainbow of Peaceful Damsels. Damsel fishes are some of the toughest marine fish for the saltwater aquarium. These five from the genus Chromis are both peaceful and colorful. Choose Wisely!

A Rainbow of Peaceful Damsels

If you are looking for a hardy, beginner fish, a damsel may be in your future. The damselfishes are a huge group including the following genera, which are common in the hobby:

  • Abudefduf (e.g. Sergeant Major)
  • Amphiprion (e.g. Clownfish)
  • Dascyllus (e.g. Domino Damsel)
  • Chromis (see below)
  • Chrysiptera (e.g. Talbot’s Damsel)
  • Pomacentrus (e.g. Flame Damsel)
  • Premnas (e.g. Clownfish)



The damselfishes belonging to the genus Chromis are generally small, exceedingly hardy shoaling fishes. They are generally more peaceful than other damsels, and the range of colors combined with their propensity for constantly swimming in the water column, make them an excellent addition to most saltwater tanks. Here are five of the best fishes if you want a hardy, colorful shoaling fish for your saltwater aquarium.

Don’t Cycle with Damsels

While damsels make excellent beginner fish, they should not be used (as they once frequently were) for cycling a new tank. Cycling a tank refers to the necessary first step in any saltwater aquarium set-up of starting the nitrogen cycle. During this period, levels of ammonia and nitrite reach toxic levels. While many damsels may survive the cycling process, there is little justification for this blatant torture of a living creature. There are better ways to cycle—‘nuff said.

General Care

Many of these chromis species will be constantly active and act as dithering fishes, drawing more cryptic species out into the open. If you are purchasing fewer than eight, obtain them in uneven numbers to lessen any potential aggression. Provide them with plenty of rockwork and hiding spots, as they may get bullied by more aggressive tankmates. They particularly appreciate branching acropora coral where they can hide amongst the branches. In terms of feeding, they’ll eat pretty much anything marine-based. Table shrimp, mysis shrimp, flakes, pellets, frozen foods…they’ll eat it.

Five Great Damsels

The following damsels from the genus Chromis are heartily recommended. The first three are beginner fishes, while the latter two are best left to the intermediate aquarist. Jumping right in, the first chromis on the list is actually a two-for-the-price of one fish. That’s right—you get two colors in one fish when you obtain a:

Bicolor Chromis (Chromis margaritifer)

This little black and white chromis (to three and one half inches) is quite attractive and a definite peaceful tankmate. Don’t consider black-and-white color though? Then consider the:

Blue Chromis (Chromis cyanea)

There is both an Atlantic and an Indo-Pacific Blue Chromis. The Pacific species is a great little fish (to three and one half inches. The Atlantic species, while brightly colored, may be a bit big (can grow to roughly six inches) for some aquarists. You won’t want to keep a shoal of these guys in anything but a 75-gallon-plus tank, but the same cannot be said for the delightful little:

Green Chromis (Chromis viridis)

The smallest (to three inches) of the three beginner species listed here, the Green Chromis (sometimes called the Blue-Green Chromis) is a real favorite given its flashy metallic coloring and curious nature. This is a shoaling chromis ideal for the smaller tank (30 gallons plus), although a shoal in a larger reef tank is not to be missed.

Purple Chromis (Chromis scotti)

The Purple Chromis, also known as the Indigo Damselfish and the Purple Reeffish, is a boldly colored Atlantic fish growing to roughly four inches in length. An excellent choice for a reef tank, this chromis is generally considered appropriate for the intermediate hobbyist, as is the:

Yellow Chromis (Chromis analis)

As the name suggests, this fish is often a bright, cheerful yellow color and is the largest of the chromis discussed here (can reach seven inches).

So there you have it—five colorful, hardy shoaling damselfishes from the genus Chromis. Choose wisely!

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