The Chrominae is just one of 4 subfamiles within the larger Pomacentridae family. There are currently 5 recognised genera within the subfamily and roughly 120 species. They are practically ubiquitous in reef environments worldwide with representatives from all tropical and subtropical seas. Generally, these small fish are diurnal by nature and are almost always associated with brightly-lit coral reef habitats. In some cases they are even commensal with corals. Many species form large schools, indeed they can be the most numerous fish on many reefs. It should be noted that schooling behaviour may only be typical of juvenile fishes with adults more likely to transition to a more haremic arrangement. Although they are generally peaceful in captivity with other species, inter-group conflict can occur in the confines of an aquarium as individual fishes mature. Members of the subfamily are often identified as damselfishes despite residing in the Chrominae. While some species are readily available to aquarists, others are only occasionally or never seen.

Acanthochromis genus – there is just one species in this genus; A. polyacanthus. This species name means “many-spined”, probably in reference to the 17 dorsal-fin spines. This species is also interesting as it lays eggs and protects it’s young throughout the larval stages, to the fully developed juvenile stage. Click or touch the thumbnail image for species level information.

Chromis genus – at the time of writing (December 2021) there were 102 recognised species in this genus making it by far the largest of the 5 genera in the Chrominae. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this genus contains some of the most well-known marine aquarium fishes, specifically C. viridis and C. cyaneus. These species are in high demand as, being small, peaceful and schooling/shoaling, they can be incorporated into aquaria in groups. Having said this, aquarist often encounter problems as young fishes mature and begin to transition to a more haremic style of life. If a situation exists where all fish are a very similar size, this can lead to protracted conflict and ultimately the death of weak individuals. Click or touch a thumbnail image for species level information.

Dascyllus genus – despite residing in the Chrominae subfamily, Dascyllus species are often referred to as damsels, or humbug damsels. Cute juveniles of these species are often found in association with anemones, sea urchins of hard coral heads in the wild, often in groups, as they use these for shelter. Although recommended by some sources as being ideal for beginner aquarist (perhaps due to their general hardiness), some species grow quickly and become extremely territorial in the confines of an aquarium. Click or touch a thumbnail image for species level information.

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