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Wisdom Wednesday | Damselfish

Shore Buddies Wisdom Wednesday 01/27/2021

Image of a Damselfish by Manuela Kirschner

Damselfish are closely related to Clownfish. Damselfish are found throughout the world, and are almost always associated with coral reefs. The average size of most Damsels is over 14 inches in length. They are known for their bright colors and hardiness. It’s important to mention that the Damselfish is an extremely large group of fish and as a result each species of Damsel has their own quirks and individuality. Damselfish are herbivores that cultivate a garden of their preferred algae. They carefully remove other algae and small invertebrates in order to encourage growth of their favorite species. The gardens serve two functions: 1) they provide a food source for the adult threespot damsels; and 2) they provide an area for females to spawn their eggs. Unlike many species of reef fishes that broadcast their eggs into the water above the reef, damselfishes stick their eggs to the reef surface and guard them until they hatch. Males try to keep the highest quality gardens in order to have a greater chance at success in courting a female. Together, they aggressively defend the eggs from wrasses and other foraging predators that would love an easy meal of yolky fish eggs.