The yellowtail damselfish is easily one of the brightest and most vibrant damsels you can ever hope to host in your tank! These beautiful creatures make for great starter pets, and while they can have aggressive or territorial natures occasionally, they are actually some of the milder damselfish available for you to adopt.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at everything you need to know about raising yellowtail damselfish of your own.
- Fish Lifespan: Between 4 and 6 Years
- Tank Size: At Least 30 Gallons
- Water Temperature: Between 75 and 80F
- pH: Between 8.1 and 8.4
- Hardness: Between 8 and 12 dKH
- Compatibility: Compatible with Clownfish, Basslets, Angelfish
- Fish Size: Up to 3 Inches
How do you take care of yellowtail damselfish?
Yellowtail damsels, much like other damselfish you can host in a saltwater tank, are reasonably easy to look after. They are pretty hardy on the whole, and providing you feed them properly and make sure they have the best tank conditions, there are no reasons why you won’t find looking after yellowtails very simple. They are great starter fish for saltwater keepers for this very reason.
These are omnivorous fish, so do always make sure to give them a mix of fish flakes, herbivore scraps and the odd meaty piece. They tend to like higher pH levels and warmer waters, given that they hail from coral reefs out in the Indo-Pacific.
Yellowtail damselfish can grow to be four inches long, which means you will likely need a medium to large size of tank if you want to host several of them. The golden rule, as always, is that you must account for two gallons of volume for each inch of fish.
These fish, like other damsels, can be aggressive. They can have a habit of bullying smaller species and creatures, meaning it’s not always a good idea to mix them in as the biggest critters in the community. In fact, it’s actually a good idea to start raising them with bigger fish, as they tend to only get aggressive as they get older.
The yellowtail might actually be a little more relaxed than its cousins in the blue devil and the domino damsel. These two species tend to be some of the feistiest. While yellowtails show traits of territorialism, they may be an even better choice for beginner aquariums. That said, do always give your yellowtails plenty of space as well as live rock.
If you do have smaller fish who are likely to get stressed out or scared by territorialism, then you’ll likely want to set up a separate tank for the damsels – trust us on this one!
How big does a yellow tail damsel get?
A yellowtail damsel will normally grow to be around four inches in length, maximum. However, they can mature smaller on the occasion. That said, four inches tends to be a good max size indicator for most damsels, so this species doesn’t really go against the grain.
That’s why it is so important to make sure you have a large enough tank to host your yellowtail damsels. Keeping in mind the two gallons per inch equation, you’ll likely want to arrange a tank that is at least 30 gallons in volume for sheer comfort and ease of movement for your fish.
30 gallons will also likely be enough for five or six fish. It’s possible to keep a damsel like a yellowtail in smaller tanks, such as those which are 10 gallons in volume. However, in our professional opinion, collectively, we suggest going for larger tanks wherever possible – as fish generally like having plenty of room providing there are lots of hiding places and spots along the way.
This especially goes for the damselfish – they can get protective and bully fish around, so make sure to give them spots where they can establish their own spaces without muscling in on anyone else’s.
What fish are compatible with damsels?
There are many fish which are compatible with damsels like the yellowtail, such as angelfish and basslets. You may also be safe to introduce clownfish to the same tank.
It’s generally advisable that you shouldn’t mix damsel species together, mainly because of their territory-hugging nature. However, if you have plenty of saltwater tank keeping experience, you will likely be able to balance this type of community easily if you take special care and pay attention.
There are some fish, such as timid cardinals, which don’t mix well with any kind of damsels. Damselfish, even the more placid in yellowtails, will likely want to push around smaller critters. If they are the biggest or most authoritative fish in the tank, then you’re in trouble!
However, damsels on the whole tend to be pretty small, giving them what some people call a Napoleon complex! Damsels tend to do well in groups that are spread out well, and as mentioned, it’s normally a good idea to try and raise your yellowtails with bigger fish before they mature. Just make sure the bigger fish aren’t likely to prey on them!
There are plenty of fish and creatures in saltwater who will likely want to gobble up yellowtail damselfish, so do make a point of avoiding big groupers or eels. You’re going to want to keep your tank community balanced in terms of critter sizing as much as you can. Take a look at further guides to predatory fish and find out how to protect your damsels for the better.
Are damselfish aggressive?
Yes, on the whole, damselfish are aggressive. This is even the case from breed to breed!
Damsels have reputations for being pretty feisty and tenacious. This can make them wonderful characters to watch in the water, but it can make them a bit tricky to balance with other fish, especially if you have critters in your tank that shrink away and are easily bullied. Some damselfish will happily prod around other fish in an effort to get more food or to simply claim more of the tank space.
As you can’t discipline a fish, the best thing to do is consider the community you want to bring damsels into, as well as the species of damsel you’d like to adopt. Yellowtail damsels tend to be semi-aggressive, which means they are not always as big a fish to handle as, say, the blue devil.
Do damsels kill other fish?
It’s not common, but it is entirely possible for damselfish to harm others, and even to kill them.
Their aggressive natures may lead to hurting other fish in your tank, which could lead to injury and even infection. It’s not only good for the mental wellbeing of your other fish that damsels are kept on a tight leash – it’s for their physical good, too.
Damsels will also attack and bully each other, too, if you mix the species. It’s never advisable to blend the species together, though if you do have experience with saltwater fish in general, you may find the balance easier than most.
We’d advise to take caution. If you are just starting out with damselfish or saltwater fishkeeping for the first time, try and keep them on their own first. This way, you won’t have to worry too much about keeping the balance in place!
Can damselfish live with clownfish?
Yes, it’s entirely possible for you to house damselfish and clownfish in the same tank. However, thanks to the aggressive nature of damsels, you must still make sure to give them plenty of space, and to be on high alert.
Clownfish tend to be pretty peaceful, and as they grow to the same size as damselfish, they may be a good match. However, you do still need to be careful that you’re not bringing in aggressive clownfish, either – as this can lead to even bigger problems down the line.
For example, the maroon clownfish is notoriously aggressive – making it a poor match for any damsels!
How can you tell if a damselfish is male or female?
It is not always easy to tell the genders between damselfish, even from species to species. Some damsels are easy to spot the differences between thanks to differences in their tails or dorsal fins. Others, like yellowtails, are very hard to sex – meaning you may end up with a batch of all male or all female fish just by luck of the draw.
The best thing to do when looking to breed yellowtail damselfish is to try and beat the odds. The more you adopt in a group, the more chance, mathematically, you will have of taking in at least one male and at least one female. However, this again doesn’t carry any kind of guarantee!
So, always be sure to ask the advice of your local aquarium centre before you go ahead and adopt damsels. They may be easy to breed once paired up but telling them apart is not a game that beginner fish keepers will find so easy. Take your time!