Domino Damsel
Domino Damsel

Domino Damsel

Domino Damsel  juvenile

Domino Damsel

The fish species Dascyllus trimaculatus is known under many different names in English, such as Domino Damsel, Domino Damselfish, Domino, Three Spot Damsel, Three Spot Damselfish, Threespot Damsel, Threespot Dascyllus,  Three Spot Dascyllus, Three-Spot Dascyllus, Three-spot Humbug, Whitespot Humbug, and White-spot Puller.

Dascyllus trimaculatus has not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Geographical range, habitat and habits

The Domino Damsel lives in the Indo-Pacific. Its range stretches from East Africa and the Red Sea to the Line and Pitcairn islands. It has not been encountered in the waters of Hawaii or around the Marquesan islands. Northwards, you can find Domino Damsels up to southern Japan. Southwards, its range proceeds down to Sydney, Australia.

The Domino Damsel is a day-active (diurnal) species that inhabits coral reefs and rocky reefs and can form small to large aggregations. The depth range for Domino Damsel is 1-55 meters / 3-180 feet. Juvenile specimens are known to live together with big sea anemones, small coral heads or sea urchins. Adult specimens are known to be aggressive.  

Size and appearance

The largest scientifically measured Domino Damsel was 11.0 cm / 4.3 in.

The juvenile Domino Damsel is black with bluish scale centres. On the forehead and upper sides you can see white spots against the black background and this is why the fish is commonly known as Domino Damsel. In juveniles, all the fins are black except for the see-through pectoral fin and the outer portion of the soft dorsal rays.

When it comes to adult fish, their looks vary somewhat depending on geographical location. Generally speaking, adults loose their spot on the forehead while the spots on the upper sides become very vague. Some specimens loose all their spots completely. The body remains blue-black and features dark scale margins. The margins of the preorbital, suborbital and preoperculum are finely serrated.

Domino Damsel care

The Domino Damsel is a hardy fish and considered really easy to care for compared to most other marine fish species. You should however keep in mind that it will become territorial and aggressive as it matures into an adult. It may even bite your hand. Adults are not a good choice for peaceful community aquariums; they should only be kept with fish that can fend for themselves and won’t tolerate any bullying from the Domino. Generally speaking, the Domino Damsel will direct most of its aggressive behaviour towards members of its own species.

It is generally not advisable to house Domino Damsel in an aquarium smaller than 30 gallons / 115 litres, but advanced aquarists may be able to successfully keep this species in a 20 gallon / 75 litre tank. The Domino Damsel needs plenty of hiding spots as well as plenty of open space for swimming. If you want to keep several Dominos together, the aquarium should be of at least 50 gallons / 200 litres, unless it is a compatible pair.

The recommended pH-value is 8.1-8.4 and the specific gravity should be in the 1.020-1.025 range. Keep the water temperature around 72-78° F /22-25.5° C.

Feeding Domino Damsel

In the wild, the omnivore Domino Damsel feeds chiefly on algae and copepods and other planktonic crustaceans. It will readily accept virtually any kind of food in the aquarium, including dry food. Keep it on a varied diet that contains both algae/vegetables and meaty foods. You can for instance use high-quality flakes as a base and supplement with plenty of algae/algae-based foods and live, fresh or frozen meaty foods. Vegetables will also be beneficial. Make sure that the food is small enough for the fish to devour, e.g. finely chopped shrimps. It is better to give your fish many small portions throughout the day than one or two big meals. If you keep your Domino Damsel in a thriving reef aquarium you can cut down on the feedings because the fish will be able to hunt down copepods and similar creatures on its own. 

Breeding Domino Damsel

We do not know how to sex Domino Damsels based on outer appearance. There are no reports of Domino Damsels being successfully bred in aquariums, but several other species of damsel fish have.

Damsel Species Articles

Green Chromis aka Black-axil Chromis
Blue Green Chromis
Blue Devil
Blue Velvet Damsel
Yellowtail Damsel
Fiji Blue Devil
Striped Damsel
Blacktail Damsel

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