Sulphur damsel, Pomacentrus sulfureus


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Matt Clarke on Sulphur damsel, Pomacentrus sulfureus, an unusual pomacentrid for the reef tank.

Common name: Sulphur damsel

Scientific name: Pomacentrus sulfureus

Origin: This pomacentrid is found in the Western Indian Ocean from the Red Sea down the East African coast to the Comores, Madagascar, the Seychelles and Mauritius.

Size: Fairly large for a damsel at around 8cm/3" when fully grown.

Water: Typical marine aquarium conditions. Quite simple to cater for.

Diet: These fish were doing well on a diet of Aquarian flakes, as well as a wide variety of frozen foods.

Habitat: This is a reef associated damsel and is found among coral heads. According to Dr Gerald Allen, it tends to occur mainly on inshore coral reefs.

Aquarium: This species should be easy to cater for, but appears to be a little bit feisty, like most Pomacentrus species. It's fine for the reef tank, although due to potential aggression levels, there could be better choices.

Notes: The colouration of juvenile P. sulfureus is so different that you could think you're looking at a different fish. Young fish (under 3-4cm) tend to be white with a yellow head and dorsal surface. There's a prominent black spot on the back of the dorsal with a blue ring around it, plus various blue squiggles on the face and rows of blue spots laterally along the flanks.

Identification: There are several similar damsels with a yellow base colour and a black spot on the base of the pectoral fin, including P. moluccensis and P. pikei. The latter has dark blue lips, while moluccensis has a smaller pectoral spot and blue markings on the scales.

Availability: We spotted some on sale at the Goldfish Bowl, Oxford (01865 241825). They are rarely seen in the aquarium trade.

Price: Expect to pay about 15.