Saltwater fish, Batfish, Information, Species

Three Stripe Damselfish 101: Facts and Care Tips

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by Jason Matthews



The Three Stripe Damselfish is a vibrant and captivating fish species well suited for beginner and intermediate fish owners. With their bright colors, playful nature, and easy-to-care-for tank conditions, the Three Stripe Damselfish is an excellent choice for those looking to add a touch of beauty and excitement to their aquarium


Scientific Name: Dascyllus aruanus
Common Names: Three Stripe Damselfish
Life Expectancy: 5-8 years
Adult Size: Up to 4 inches (10 cm) in length


HabitatCoral reefs and rocky outcrops
OriginWestern Atlantic and Caribbean Sea
Care LevelModerate
Tank LevelMiddle to Bottom
Minimum Tank Size30 gallons (113 liters)
Water pH8.1-8.4
Water Temperature72-78°F (22-26°C)
Water Hardness8-12 dKH
LightingModerate to High
Tank MatesCompatible with peaceful fish, but may be aggressive towards fish with similar colors and patterns

Fun Fact Corner

A fun fact about Three Stripe Damselfish is that they can change their color based on their mood and surroundings. When they feel threatened, they can turn a dark blue or black to scare off potential predators. On the other hand, when they are relaxed, they display a bright and vibrant yellow color, making them a stunning addition to any aquarium. 


The Three Stripe Damselfish (Dascyllus aruanus) is a species of marine fish found throughout the Indo-Pacific region, including the Red Sea, the east coast of Africa, and the western Pacific Ocean.

It is believed that the Three Stripe Damselfish originated in the Indo-Pacific region and spread to other parts of the world through natural means such as ocean currents and migration.

Appearance & Size

The Three Stripe Damselfish’s appearance is one of its most distinguishing characteristics. These fish are distinguished by their bright blue or green bodies and three conspicuous white stripes running vertically down their sides. The stripes are more noticeable in juveniles and vanish as the fish matures. 

Additionally, the fins are often a brilliant yellow or orange, adding to their overall visual appeal. With their striking markings and bright hues, Three Stripe Damselfish will surely be a standout addition to any aquarium.

The Three Stripe Damselfish is a tiny fish reaching a maximum length of approximately 3-4 inches. Notably, these fish can grow more extensively in the wild, reaching lengths up to 5 inches. However, due to limited space and other causes, their growth in captivity is sometimes hindered.


Gender differences in the Three Stripe Damselfish can be challenging to distinguish between males and females. Male Three Stripe Damselfish are larger and more colorful than females, with deeper and more vibrant hues. 

However, these differences can be subtle and only noticeable in some species. It is important to note that in captive environments, the gender of Three Stripe Damselfish can be influenced by several factors, including genetics, diet, and environmental conditions.


When it comes to behavior, the Three Stripe Damselfish is known for being lively and playful. They are aggressive swimmers who can be observed dashing around their tank, searching for food, or exploring their surroundings. Additionally, they are known for their aggressive behavior towards other fish species, mainly those smaller or more passive. This territorial behavior is an instinct that helps the fish protect their territory and ensure survival.


When choosing tank mates for your Three Stripe Damselfish, it is important to consider their natural territorial behavior. These fish can be aggressive towards other species, particularly smaller or more passive ones.

Some of the best options include:

  • Tangs
  • Clownfish
  • Angelfish
  • Wrasses
  • Triggerfish

Tank conditions

When it comes to tank conditions, the Three Stripe Damselfish are adaptable and can thrive in a range of environments. They are commonly kept in aquariums ranging in size from 20 to 50 gallons, while a larger tank will allow them to swim and explore more freely. These fish thrive in conditions that closely resemble their natural home, so a well-established aquarium with plenty of live rock, caves, and other hiding places is essential.

It is also important to ensure that your tank’s water parameters are acceptable for your Three Stripe Damselfish. These fish prefer temperatures of 72-78°F and pH levels of 8.1-8.4. They also require a modest level of water circulation and adequate water quality, so constant water changes and filtration is essential. These fish like bright, natural light and will thrive in an aquarium with a powerful LED light or another appropriate aquarium lighting. 


Regarding diet, the Three Stripe Damselfish are omnivores and have varied appetites. They eat a range of tiny crustaceans, plankton, and algae in their natural habitat. They can be fed a balanced diet of dry and wet meals in captivity.

Provide them with a varied diet to ensure they receive all the nutrients for optimal health. A staple diet of high-quality, marine-based flake food or pellets can complement frozen or live foods such as brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and copepods.

When choosing a food for your Three Stripe Damselfish, consider their feeding habits. These fish are known for their aggressive territorial behavior and may compete for food with other fish in the aquarium. Feed them when other fish are less active to prevent antagonism and ensure that they get their fair amount of food.


Breeding the Three Stripe Damselfish in an aquarium environment can be a challenging but rewarding experience. These fish are known for their territorial behavior and may become aggressive towards other fish in the tank, especially during the breeding season.

Three Stripe Damselfish breeding pairs should be kept in a separate breeding tank with ideal water conditions and a suitable spawning surface. These fish lay their eggs on flat surfaces like rocks or coral. A flat surface, such as a breeding slate or tile, might stimulate spawning in captivity.

It is also important to provide the breeding couple with a varied and balanced diet to keep them healthy and provide them with the nutrients they need to produce a successful spawn.

Once the eggs have been placed, the parents will ferociously protect their nest and the eggs until they hatch. Removing the parents from the breeding tank at this point is recommended to avoid hostility towards the newly-hatched fry.


Diseases can threaten the health of Three Stripe Damselfish, just as with any other fish species. Common illnesses that may affect these fish include Ich, Marine Velvet, and Finrot.

It is important to maintain adequate water quality regularly and quarantine new fish before adding them to the main tank to prevent the disease from spreading. This reduces the possibility of introducing a condition into the tank.

If a Three Stripe Damselfish exhibits disease symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or irregular swimming behavior, it is important to take action promptly. Treatment options for common fish ailments include aquarium-safe drugs and careful water management. When dealing with any health difficulties with your fish, it is always advisable to seek the assistance of a trained aquarium veterinarian or fish expert. 


Jason Matthews

My name is Jason Matthews, and welcome to my website. When other kids were bragging about how their dog could sit and roll over, I was bragging about my latest Betta Fish and the cool sea castle I just added to his aquarium. 

Jason aquariume

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