News / Species Spotlight / Tongan Blue Devil Damselfish (Chrysiptera taupou) (10/10/18)

Tongan Blue Devil Damselfish (Chrysiptera taupou)

Species Spotlight - Tongan Blue Devil Damselfish (Chrysiptera taupou)
The Blue Damselfish (Chrysiptera cyanea) is one of the most commonly exported species for the aquarium trade and is quite often recommended to novice marine aquarists as a starter fish. Less well-known is a closely related and even more vibrantly colored cousin found only in parts of the South Pacific, Chrysiptera taupou.

Youll see this fish referred to variously as the South Seas Damselfish (or Damoiselle), or simply as the Southseas Devil or the Tongan Blue Devil. The name should give an indication of this fishs personality. This small, 2-inch blue beauty is a hellacious resident of the reef, aggressively chasing away intruders from its territory. This is common behavioral quirk among those pomacentrids that feed heavily on algae, and it has unfortunately given this family a poor reputation among aquarists. Damselfishes are all too often lumped together as being hyperaggressive brutes, but, while this is true for some, the family as a whole is enormously speciose and ecologically diverse.

However, when it comes to C. taupou, the reputation is well-earned.

Given its small size, its tempting to put this fish into a smaller aquarium, but this will severely limit the options for other tankmates. Groups like dottybacks and wrasses and blennies will often fare poorly in such a situation. Larger aquariums, either reef or fish-only, are far more ideal, though only the largest systems are suitable for keeping multiple specimens of C. taupou. Its also wise to avoid mixing other similar-looking damselfishes, such as C. cyanea or C. parasema, the Yellowtail Damselfish, though more distant relatives, like Chromis and Dascyllus and Amphiprion, are more likely to succeed as tankmates.

While C. cyanea is collected in huge numbers from the Philippines and Indonesia, C. taupou is generally seen in far smaller numbers, with those offered by Quality Marine coming from our exclusive supplier in Tonga. The species was originally described more than a century ago from nearby American Samoa, and its unusual scientific name comes from the local name for this fish, taupo. This apparently translates roughly as damsel or village belle, though this name is applied to other brightly colored pomacentrids in the region. Though superficially similar, these two species are easily told apart. In C. taupou, the belly and caudal fin are bright yellow (blue in C. cyanea). Whereas the caudal fin is sexually dichromatic in C. cyanea, it is the dorsal fin which varies in C. taupou, yellow in females and mostly blue in males.

For a highly affordable and exuberantly colorful fish, its hard to beat the Tongan Blue Devil, but this one comes with a big asterisk... never underestimate how bellicose this caerulean stunner can be within the confines of a small fish tank.