By Bob Goemans
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Two Little Fishies 


Neoglyphidodon melas

(Cuvier, 1830)

Black Damselfish, Bowtie Damselfish

Likely Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Indo-West Pacific Ocean: Eastern Africa and the Red Sea to the Philippines, Taiwan, Southern Japan, Palau, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and northern Australia.

Size: 7 inches (18 cm)

Natural Environment: Inhabits coral rich areas of lagoon reefs, fringing reefs and outer-reef faces and usually associated with soft corals at depths between 3 to about 40 feet (1 – 12 m) and feeds on algae, sea slugs, soft coral polyps (zoanthids), soft coral mucus, sea anemones, and benthic invertebrates.

General Husbandry: Rarely seen the trade, with the juvenile quite attractive having a whitish body capped in yellow and the tail lobes edged in yellow, while the adult is completely bluish black.

Juvenile can be quite feisty, but as it grows into adulthood, they become extremely aggressive and must be housed with very aggressive tankmates, e.g., dottybacks, large angelfishes and surgeonfishes, and triggerfishes.

As to diet, a meaty diet, e.g., live fortified brine shrimp and/or finely chopped various frozen or fresh meaty foods such as mysis, squid, fish flesh, shrimp, clam and plant material, e.g., flake foods, especially those containing Spirulina should be offered several times daily.


    Order: Perciformes

    Suborder: Labroidei

    Family: Pomacentridae

    Subfamily: Pomacentrinae

    Genus: Neoglyphidodon

FYI: Cute when small, think twice before putting this species in your aquarium!

Easy to keep well fed, yet problematic as to tankmates

Experience Level: Intermediate

Temperament: Feisty/belligerent

Diet: Omnivore

Coral Safe: With Caution

Invertebrate Safe: With caution

Acclimation Time: 30 minutes+

Aquarium Environment: Reef or fish-only aquarium

Tankmates: Aggressive

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons

Temperature Range: 74 - 28°F (23 – 28°C)

Specific Gravity: 1.020 - 1.026

pH: 8.0 - 8.5

 Neoglyphidodon melas (Black Damselfish, Bowtie Damselfish)
Photo © David Cook
 Neoglyphidodon melas (Black Damselfish, Bowtie Damselfish)
Photo © John Randalln
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