Chrysiptera starcki, the Poor Man’s Resplendent Angelfish

Fish Think Pink

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We’ve always had a soft spot for damselfish since they were our first saltwater fish over 25 years ago. We still like their bold colors, cichlid-like looks, and behavior, and still add them to our reef tanks even now. Sure, we avoid Domino damsels and Sergeant majors, but wouldn’t rule out every damsel species these days, as when compared to introducing territorial Purple tangs or large angelfish species to each other, they’re really not that bad. Not if they’re managed properly…

So recently we had an opening for some damsels in our home tank and instead of opting for ubiquitous Chromis viridis and perhaps, Chrysiptera parasema, we pushed the boat out and invested in Chromis vanderbilti and Chrysiptera starcki instead. The Chromis did what Chromis do and quickly whittled their numbers down from a group of six to just two, proving to be rather boisterous fish as Chromis go, and judging by differences in the caudal fin extensions they condensed their own numbers down to a single, sexed pair. The “Vanderbilts” have toned their color right down too and look dark gray from a distance. Chromis vanderbilti also moved genus to Pycnochromis in 2021, but despite that revision, ours are looking more and more like the Blacktail Chromis, Chromis nigrura, that replaces them in the Pacific. The fish we’ve been really impressed with however is the Starck’s damselfish.

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