Dascyllus melanurus (Striped Damselfish)

dascyllus melanurus

Last updated on August 11th, 2022 at 08:58 pm

Dascyllus melanurus, commonly known as the striped damselfish, is a small fish found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. These social damselfish are suitable for many saltwater aquariums and can easily be kept with other peaceful fish, including corals and other invertebrates.

If you’re looking to add some color to your home aquarium or want to help control algae growth, consider adding some striped damselfish to your tank today! Here’s everything you need to know about dascyllus melanurus care, from diet to tank mates.

Deep blue, emerald green and golden yellow stripes adorn the body of the dascyllus melanurus, otherwise known as the striped damselfish. Native to shallow reef environments, these fish are commonly found in tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Because these fish are considered reef safe, they are often purchased by aquarists for their home aquariums. The striped damselfish (dascyllus melanurus) care guide will walk you through everything you need to know about caring for this beautiful species of fish in your own tank!

Origin and descriptions

dascyllus melanurus

Dascyllus melanurus is also known as a striped damselfish. They are a small species of fish and live only around 2 years in captivity. These fish are from Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia. Their natural habitat is the reefs of these areas. They eat mostly algae and zooplankton but will occasionally eat small invertebrates like shrimp or worms. This fish likes to be kept in groups of 5 or more individuals per tank due to their social nature.

The minimum size tank for them would be 30 gallons although they do best with 50 gallon tanks or larger. The tank should have plenty of hiding spots and reef-safe decorations so they don’t have to compete with other inhabitants for food.

However, it is important that you keep several clean-up crew organisms in case your dascyllus does decide to snack on some of your other fish. It’s not recommended that you feed them large amounts of meaty foods because they won’t benefit much from it since they get all their nutrients from algae.

Since dascyllus tend to be aggressive when competing for food it is recommended that you introduce an aquarium-born specimen rather than purchasing one which was captured at sea.

Species profile

dascyllus melanurus

Dascyllus melanurus is a species of marine fish belonging to the family Pomacentridae. Its genus is comprised of seven species, with four species found in waters near Australia and another three living in tropical and subtropical waters around Southeast Asia.

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Members of its genus have had several common names applied to them, with damselfish being one of them. Another common name for Dascyllus melanurus is striped-back damselfish; however, it can also be referred to as a barred undulate damsel or an orange banded dascyllus.

Two species of the striped damselfish are Dascyllus aruanus and Dascyllus trimaculatus. Dascyllus is a tiny species of marine fish in the family Pomacentridae. They are found in tropical and subtropical waters ranging from Sri Lanka to Fiji to northern Australia where they live among coral reefs.

The striped damselfish is best kept in an aquarium of at least 20 gallons with plenty of open swimming space; these fish have trouble cohabitating with other members of their own species and should be kept singly or perhaps in pairs at most. As omnivores, they will eat both meaty foods like brine shrimp or Mysis shrimp as well as frozen or freeze-dried vegetables like spirulina flakes or algae wafers.


Dascyllus melanurus is commonly found in shallow waters around rocky areas, which makes them relatively easy to take care of. The striped damselfish can be kept in a standard 20-gallon tank as long as there are plenty of small caves and crevices for hiding and living.

These fish also prefer saltwater tanks over freshwater because they need more moisture to survive. It’s important to keep an eye on your aquarium’s water level so that it doesn’t run dry or become too salty. A constant temperature between 74–80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal; make sure to adjust your thermostat accordingly if you notice any drastic changes in temperature levels while you’re away.

This species should also be housed with multiple individuals from their own kind and not other fish species due to its territorial nature.

Dascyllus melanurus size

They grow up to 4 inches (10 cm) long when fully grown.

Dascyllus melanurus tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 30 gallons. Although, a larger tank with several small hiding places is better.

Tank set up

The striped damselfish is a peaceful fish and can be kept with other small species that are of similar temperament. They are ideal tank mates for cleaner wrasses, clownfish, and dottybacks. If you have a pair of dascyllus, they will often spawn in captivity. To encourage spawning, make sure you have at least a 30 gallon tank with plenty of live rock that has nooks and crannies to hide in.

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Provide them with plenty of invertebrate prey to maintain good health. Calcium levels should be about 380 ppm. Extra calcium may need to be added if eggs are fertilized. It is possible for them to consume their own eggs as well as those from other fish, so extreme care must be taken when breeding these beautiful fishes! Dascyllus melanurus does not tolerate water conditions much above 84 degrees Fahrenheit or below 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

As most reef tanks run around 77 degrees Fahrenheit, keep an eye on your fish if you notice any unusual behavior like tail twitching or even swimming upside down which would indicate poor water quality. Water quality is one of the most important factors to consider when keeping marine tropical healthy.

Dascyllus melanurus tank mates

The dascyllus species is known to be generally peaceful and can be housed with other non-aggressive fish. However, they have been known to fight with tank mates over territory. It is advised that you keep them alone or in small numbers. In terms of passive-aggressive behavior, such as fin nipping or jumping out of the water, most will tolerate it well if given sufficient hiding places or caves to retreat into during feeding time.

Some good tank mates are tangs, clownfish, chromis, and other damsels. Avoid keeping them with fish that are known as fin nippers or fish that tend to be territorial such as dottybacks. Dascyllus is not a reef-safe fish as it will eat invertebrates in your reef tank.

Dascyllus melanurus breeding

dascyllus melanurus

The striped damselfish is an egg scatterer and will lay eggs at random on available surfaces. The male will guard these eggs until they hatch in about 48 hours, after which he will drive away his young before they become independent.

Eggs are fertilized externally, typically during mating. During spawning, a female may produce between 30,000 to 100,000 eggs which she releases into open water where they are taken in by plankton.

At times when a predator is present in an aquarium, it may be better to remove both parents and raise the offspring artificially. If there are no predators, then raising them naturally should not cause problems, provided that there are other adult fish for them to hide from larger species. In some cases, two pairs of damsels may spawn together and therefore require twice as much space as normally required by one species of similar size.

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If raising babies artificially is required, use conditioned water with a temperature maintained between 77 – 80°F(25 – 27°C). Eggs should be transferred carefully from spawning sites so that you don’t damage any during removal. A commercial breeding trap can also be used. It consists of a large flat glass or plastic container inside which is placed a smaller glass tubular container open at both ends.

One end has an opening that leads into the main chamber, and eggs laid here will enter but cannot escape back out again due to their shape.

Are Dascyllus melanurus aggressive or peaceful?

Dascyllus melanurus can be very aggressive towards other tank mates. However, since they are small and have delicate fins, it is best to keep them in a species-only tank. Avoid housing them with much larger or aggressive fish. Be cautious with tank mates who have long or protruding finnage such as angelfish or lionfish.

Dascyllus melanurus care

dascyllus melanurus

Dascyllus melanurus is a beautiful fish that requires only basic care, making it a great fish for beginner aquarists. This fish is naturally found in warm, shallow waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The striped damselfish spends most of its time swimming on top of reefs and in tide pools, though it occasionally visits open water near shore. In captivity, they are most active during twilight hours at dusk and dawn.

What do Dascyllus melanurus eat

The fish is an omnivorous fish that eats zooplankton and phytoplankton. They’re particularly fond of red algae and seaweed. In fact, some are bred to nibble away at nuisance algae in aquariums. These fish can be fed brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, or flake food for herbivores. Be careful about overfeeding! This fish has small stomachs and needs frequent feedings that are small in volume per time.

Water parameters

dascyllus melanurus

They are not demanding in terms of lighting and water conditions, but also won’t adapt to extremes. They thrive in freshwater tanks with low-to-moderate water flow. Avoid rapid changes in temperature, as it can kill them quickly.

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Water: These fish will tolerate a pH range between 6.0 – 8.0 with hardness between 0 – 25 dH and a temperature of 72 – 79°F (22 – 26°C).

Dascyllus melanurus lifespan

They can live for up to 20 years with proper care

Parasites and diseases

There are several diseases that can affect Dascyllus. Cryptocaryon irritans is a parasite of fish and particularly affect D. melanurus – causing skin ulcers and secondary infections, with mortality rates up to 50%. Zoothamnium coralline alga infects gills, mouth, and skin, reducing oxygen intake as well as causing deformities.

Rhabdophaga gracilis is another common parasite found in D. melanurus. Infection usually occurs during the larval stage or through ingestion of infected zooplankton by adults. This causes hemorrhaging and edema on the skin making it impossible for the host to swim normally, as well as causing stress by attracting predator attacks due to increased visibility caused by blood cells streaming from lesions on its body surface.


The striped damselfish has few predators due to its ability to blend in with most backgrounds. It is a natural pest controller and will consume coral, algae, fish eggs, or even small crabs or sea anemones. If a predator does attack, it will readily dart away from trouble.

The predators of the striped damselfish are larger marine fish such as lionfish and barracuda. Also, large eels have been known to eat these little fish and some people catch them for food when scuba diving.

Do Dascyllus melanurus make good pets?

Yes. In fact, these fish have become increasingly popular and more information is available now than ever before. If you think a striped damselfish might be right for your home aquarium then, by all means, learn as much as possible about their care requirements. By doing so, you should be able to keep one of these fish healthy and happy in your tank.