Damsels are amongst the best and worst fish for aquarists. Many stores sell them as cheap beginner fish, due to their robust nature, only for them to become complete nightmares as they lose their looks and become pugnacious bullies. While there are several species that can be superb aquarium residents, there are many that are best left in the ocean. Here are a few species from the Red Sea, some you know, and some you might not.My first fish is that well known ‘cute-bully’ Pomacentrus dascyllus. In the lead image you can see it living in relative harmony as a juvenile, associating with an anemone, but below, you can see a large brute of a fish that has lost its looks and was vigorously defending its territory.
Another species that falls into the ‘leave ’em in the ocean’ category is D. aruanus. It’s such a shame as it’s such a beauty. Watching a shoal of youngsters shelter within an acropora colony is a joy to behold, but something that in captivity would lead to a quick demise for many fish.
Moving onto something I don’t often shoot, we have what I believe to be a Jewel Damsel (Plectroglyphiododron lacrymatus), in fact a wide-spread fish that is often ignored (by me anyway) as it looks dull from a distance, but up close those blue ‘jewels’ are gorgeous.
A more striking fish, and another nuisance in the tank unless kept with much larger fish, is Pomacentrus sulfureus, the Sulphur Damsel. It’s a shame that this is another bully as it is strikingly colored.
Like many Pomacentrus species, the juvenile P. sulfureus has a black ocellus on the dorsal fin.