The Black Damselfish ( Neoglyphidodon melas) is also known as the Bowtie Damselfish, the Bluefin Damselfish and in some areas as the Royal Damselfish. They undergo a fairly dramatic colour change from juvenile to adult and these changes are documented in the images below.
The very small juveniles as pictured below are oval in shape with prominent pelvic fins and are silver in colour with light black lines on the outer edges of the slightly forked caudal fin.
As they age so the pelvic and anal fins develop some yellow on them and the outer edge of the caudal fin has a yellow line.
Next the dorsal area goes yellow and the pelvic and anal fins go blue with black down the center. It is at this stage that the are at their most attractive looking.
As the fish ages so the body darkens and goes a dark grey to black color. The yellow upper body also begins to darken.
The adult pictured below is a dark green black colour which is remarkably difficult to photograph. They grow up to 18cm in the wild and are one of the larger damselfish.
BLACK DAMSELFISH IN THE WILD
The Black Damselfish is usually seen singularly even as a juvenile. The juveniles tend to be in and around branching corals and stick close to hiding spots. Being fairly colorful they are easy to see and pick out. They often exhibit up and down movements.
The adults are more difficult to pick out because of their darker colors and will usually be in an area of rich coral growth. They are more reclusive than the juveniles and are difficult to approach closely. They seem to be territorial because one will always see them in roughly the same area.
The Black Damselfish is found across the Indo West Pacific area from East Africa including the Red Sea across to Southern Japan in the North ,Northern Australia in the south and the mid Pacific islands. Their depth range is from 5 meters to roughly 18 meters in East Africa.
The Black Damselfish juveniles feed on zooplankton and as they age so they switch to soft corals and the adults feed on soft corals and the faeces of the Tridacna clams. These clams expel pellets once they have digested their nutrients and these pellets are eaten by the adults. Although they continue to feed on soft coral a major portion of their nutrients comes from the clam pellets.
Pairing before mating has been noted and the eggs are demersal and adhere to the substrate. The male cleans a patch of rock by rubbing it with his body. The eggs are then laid and fertilized and are guarded by the male. During this time the males may become highly territorial and will chase other fish away from the eggs.
Black Damselfish are very tough fish and are easy to keep. However they can become territorial and because they may attack other fishes they are not really suitable for aquariums.
BLACK DAMSELFISH CLASSIFICATION
Species: N. melas
- The Reef Guide fishes, corals, nudibranchs & other invertebrates: East and South Coasts of Southern Africa by Dennis King & Valda Fraser