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Domino Damselfish Facts

Domino Damsel - With a scientific name of Dascyllus trimaculatus, the Domino Damselfish is an extremely hardy saltwater marine fish - commonly called the Three Spot Damselfish.

Even though they are mostly prevalent in their natural geographical ranges of the Indo-Pacific Ocean, Australia, Southern Japan, and East Africa, they are also kept in aquarium habitats by keen hobbyists worldwide.

In the home aquarium, Domino Damselfishes benefit from having an anemone present so installing some carpet anemones, coral heads, or sea urchins is certain to make this species feel at home in the tank.

The Domino Damsel thrives in the wild at depths from as little as three feet down to two hundred feet. It is diurnal, which means it is active during the hours of daylight. These aggressive little fishes inhabit fringing coral reef formations and rocky outcrops and often congregate to form large colonial gangs around the reef.

Domino Damsel Aggressive Behavior

Domino Damsel (Dascyllus trimaculatus)Even though their aggressive behavior is less antagonistic while they are juveniles, Domino Damselfishes are well-known for being a dominant and feisty territorial fish when they mature as adults.

In fact, the Threespot Damselfish - otherwise called Stegastes planifrons - is one of the most protective of the species and territorially defends its reproductive sites and food sources vigorously - sometimes with a sharp bite given to any unwelcome intruders.

They usually grow up to 5 inches in length and around 4 inches for those specimens in captivity. Domino damselfish are easy to identify by their distinct coloring and physical characteristics - namely a black body with bluish scales and three large white spots.

One white spot is found on each side below the fish's dorsal fin, with another single spot in the middle of the head above the eye. The dark gray colouring of the Domino dascyllus changes slightly as it matures. With age, their bodies tend to appear browner in coloring and the spot's brightness begins to fade.

Like most saltwater marine damselfishes, they are fairly peaceful as juveniles but tend to become more aggressive as they mature. Juvenile Domino Damsels live happily in large sea anemones or coral heads in the wild and it is common to find anemones with twenty or more young domino damsels living inside it.

The Foraging Domino Damsel Diet

Domino Damselfishes are omnivores and planktivores feeding in the water column broadly on copepods, planktonic crustaceans, benthic algae, and grazing on weeds. They forage for food almost every hour that is light searching for their favourite diet - caridean shrimp.

Like most Damselfish species, the Domino Damsel also forages higher up in the water column and closer to the surface when the water current speeds are slow. Foraging shallower increases the likelihood of finding large flows of plankton.

Domino Damselfish Reproduction

Female Domino Damsels temporarily vacate their regular clutches while they are spawning. Then, having deposited their eggs inside the male territories they quickly return to safety to avoid predation. Because females are so exposed during the spawning season, they typically have a higher mortality rate than the male of the Domino Damsel species.

Male damselfish play the defensive role of the species by swimming continuously in a circular pattern above their nests until the tiny larvae hatch. During this time, male damsels often compete viciously against each other to control the reproductive territorial habitats on the seabed.

Less aggressive or unsuccessful combatant individuals often find themselves excluded from these breeding activities and exist somewhat at risk to predation as floating members of the Domino Damselfish population.

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