Damsels as first fish

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JayStro81

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I have an Azure in my 40 gallon and I've added fish to the tank after him. Azures are one of the least aggressive damselfish. Every fish has it's own personality so it's really hit or miss. Since the addition of my damsel I've added a midas blenny who quickly became the boss of the tank. A platinum clown that the damsel showed no interest in, a pygmy hawk that he didn't bother, a mandarin that he didn't bother either, and an orchid dottyback. He did go after the dottyback the first day but hasn't bothered him since. It's been months and my over crowded 40 gallon is very peaceful. It also has a sixline in it as well.
 

GoingBroke88

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I have an Azure in my 40 gallon and I've added fish to the tank after him. Azures are one of the least aggressive damselfish. Every fish has it's own personality so it's really hit or miss. Since the addition of my damsel I've added a midas blenny who quickly became the boss of the tank. A platinum clown that the damsel showed no interest in, a pygmy hawk that he didn't bother, a mandarin that he didn't bother either, and an orchid dottyback. He did go after the dottyback the first day but hasn't bothered him since. It's been months and my over crowded 40 gallon is very peaceful. It also has a sixline in it as well.

Wow... Maybe you've figured out the way to manage aggression by balancing a bunch of fairly aggressive fish in there, lol. Damsel, midas blenny, dottyback, and sixline - all of those have been some of the most aggressive fish I've ever owned. Amazed that there's no bloodshed in a crowded 40 gallon.
 

JayStro81

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Wow... Maybe you've figured out the way to manage aggression by balancing a bunch of fairly aggressive fish in there, lol. Damsel, midas blenny, dottyback, and sixline - all of those have been some of the most aggressive fish I've ever owned. Amazed that there's no bloodshed in a crowded 40 gallon.
Yeah, not sure if it was luck, strategy, or a little of both. The sixline was the first fish in the tank over a year ago. The damsel was next. The sixline did go after the damsel the first day but the very next morning they were best pals. Then I added the clown, neither fish bothered him, the clown was bigger than both of them. The next fish was the Blenny and right away the Blenny took over the tank. If any fish went close to his "spot" he let them know. Now, they all understand who the boss is. The mandarin was next and nobody gave her any thought. The pygmy hawk was the same, none of the fish bother it. Last was the dottyback. The damsel went after it for the first day, but that's all it was. They all get along now that the pecking order has been established. No agression during feeding either. I feed them with a baster so they are all used to me for food. I can literally pet them and they are cool with it, lol. Not sure how long it will last, but they've all been getting along for months.
 

schooncw

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As others mentioned, Azures aren't usually the worst. I actually help set up a fairly small tank with one. As with all fish, having a plan for the tank upfront helps tremendously, but stuff happens. Since you already have them, we'll assume the plan is that they stay.

Most saltwater fish I've ended up keeping are at the least moderately aggressive. With damsels, you'd probably be best to avoid the rare few that truly are not: PJ Cardinals, Firefish, etc. You've basically now got a semi-aggressive tank.

Semi-aggressive success, in my experience and learning, really starts with the build. Territory is the most important factor, so you'll need to make sure you're set up with this in mind. This means multiple cave networks for hiding places at different spots throughout the tank. Hiding spots provide a territory base for the aggressive fish as well as places to dart into and hide for anyone being chased. More caves across the tank usually is better.

Sight lines are also a big deal. I really like my figure 8 racetrack rockwork setup for this purpose, and actually have played around with other barriers like macro algae to obscure various parts of the tank. Basically, when you design for an aggressive tank, get innovative on ways victim fish can bail out of sight if they're chased. With the figure 8, fish can dart around a lot of my rockwork and get out of sight if they're fast enough.

And finally...redo your setup if and when you get problems. This is hard if you love the design the first go. But, since these are territorial fish, you can de-escalate the situation by undoing territories. If you take away their cave and change it up, the tank will have to re-establish hierarchy. I've made small tweaks occasionally when a pair of fish were battling over a connected cave similar to this recommendation and it actually worked.

Hope this helps!
I have a mature semi-aggressive 120 with loads of rock, cracks and crevices and am considering Azures but not sure on the number-1, 2 or 3? Advice is appreciated.
 

blasterman

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I've found most of the blue damsels pretty harmless and only able to bully pretty meek fish like firefish.

Dominos and 3 stripes are the nasty ones.

I've had fijis, yellow tails and saphires, and while feisty they arent very tough. A tomato clown won't take grief from them. A psuedochromis will kill them.
 

Tamberav

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Thank you for your reply. Hard to sex tho, right? Should I pick the largest and the smallest? Or is that not a concern?

Azures can change sex. Perhaps two tiny ones and let them figure it out or one slightly bigger. Males get larger.
 

dedragon

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Thanks again! I've been doing this for many, many years but have always avoided Damsels like the plague, so really don't know that much about them.
in that size tank i would do 3-4 azures or springeri or preferably 2 starcki damsels. A little larger but still peaceful and a striking fish at that. These are the 3 damselfish i would trust in my tank
 

DeniseAndy

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I have had azures a long time. One was the only fish in a frag tank, granted. Currently I have 6 in my 210g 7ftx2ftx2ft. They are funny and do not bother any other fish. Just each other from time to time. They have their spots and they stay there mostly. My lemon damsels are terrors to me, and like a game of tag here and there, but also not bad. My talbots are babies.
They need there own areas to be happy and peaceful.
 
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