Many years ago, when I first kept marine fish and I was entirely ignorant of…well, pretty much everything, I wandered into my LFS and asked their advice on ideal starter fish.  The black and white ones looked cute and they were only a few pounds… ‘oh yes, get a few of them’ they suggested.  My humbug damsels looked lovely for a week or two, before all hell broke loose.  I realized then that not every fish store employee knows or cares enough.

A small shoal in the Indo Pacific

Since then I have given up the hobby to pursue underwater photography, but I still remember the disappointment I felt.  So, every time I come across a group of young Dascyllus aruanus I try to get a photo.  I honestly think that’s the only way such a sight can be witnessed and I hope that these fish and their relatives don’t find their way into anyone’s tanks.

While they are not the most social fish as they mature, they are remarkably attractive and a joy to watch as they shelter amongst the branches of acroporid corals, however, they are really difficult to approach, and it can take many minutes of patient stalking to capture an image.

A group from the Red Sea

I’ve also come across their relatives Dascyllus trimaculatus in the wild, another small and cute damsel, often sold to beginners. What a brute this turns out to be, once it stops being small and cute and grows to adult size, loses its color and becomes incredibly aggressive.  Leave ’em in the ocean and vote with your wallet would be my advice.

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