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Should You Keep Yellow Tail Damsels With Clownfish?

Clownfish have been the most commonly kept fish on the saltwater side of the fish keeping hobby for over a decade now and it is common for people to reach out and ask various questions about suitable tank mates.

With the popularity of the yellow tail damsel steadily increasing, we have noticed a number of people reaching out about keeping a yellow tail damsel with clownfish.

Due to there being so many different opinions out there about keeping yellow tail damsels with clownfish, we decided that we wanted to publish this article to try and provide a balanced opinion for our readers.

Most of the discussions that we see on social media about keeping yellow tail damsels with clownfish are very polarised due to people only going by their own specific experiences rather than looking at the wider picture.

Our hope is that we will be able to help our readers better understand when you can and when you can’t keep a yellow tail damsel with your clownfish to try and prevent you having problems in your tank.

Are Yellow Tail Damsels Aggressive?

A yellow tail damsel tends to be rather passive when young but as it gets older and reaches its breeding age, the fish can then start to become more territorial and aggressive.

This is more common than people think too with many people thinking that the yellow tail damsel is always passive but this is not correct at all.

As with most species of fish, making sure that your yellow tail damsel and its tank mates are in an aquarium tank that is large enough for them as well as providing plenty of sight breaks can reduce this aggression.

If you only keep one yellow tail damsel in your tank then it can become stressed and act more aggressively to its other tank mates too.

Some people have seen a reduction in the aggressive behavior from their yellow tail damsel by adding one more yellow tail damsel to the tank so they have a pair where as other people have reported needing around five yellow tail damsels in their tank to calm their fish.

Are Clownfish Aggressive?

Clownfish can be very aggressive and this often shocks many people new to keeping the species due to getting a cute and cuddle outlook on the species due to the Finding Nemo movie.

For the most part, clownfish aggression is usually targeted to other clownfish in the tank while your clownfish battle to become dominant and form a hierarchy in the tank.

That said though, in smaller tanks or tanks without sight breaks clownfish can be aggressive to other species in their tank.

This aggression can range from chasing the other fish to nipping them to outright constant attacks on the other fish.

Thankfully, the aggression from a clownfish can drop off rapidly provided they are in a suitable tank size with optimal water parameters to reduce their stress levels as much as possible.

Can You Keep A Yellow Tail Damsel With Clownfish?

You can definitely keep a yellow tail damsel with a clownfish with minimal problems and many people within the fish keeping hobby do keep the two species together.

The yellow tail damsel and the clownfish are actually from the same family of fish and are distant relatives to each other helping the two species to get along with each other.

That said though, some people who do try to keep yellow tail damsels with their clownfish do have problems with the fish being aggressive to each other.

In most cases though, this is due to the common mistakes that we see people making within the fish keeping hobby.

These mistakes include:-

  • Overstocking their tank.
  • Using a small aquarium size.
  • Not maintaining proper water parameters.
  • Letting water temperature slip.
  • Not feeding the fish enough.
  • Not providing plenty of hides and sight breaks.

We know that some of them may sound very basic but many people do make these mistakes in their tanks that results in aggression between their fish.

If your yellow tail damsel and clownfish are fighting then try to make sure that none of the above mistakes are being made in your tank as this should be enough to quickly and easily solve the aggression in your tank.

What Tank Size Do You Need To Keep A Yellow Tail Damsel With A Clownfish?

The most common mistake that we see people make when keeping clownfish in their tanks is that they put the fish in a tank that is far too small for the species.

Although some types of clownfish can live in a 10 gallon tank, this is not ideal and will commonly result in a number of different problems in the tank, especially if you add a yellow tail damsel to such a small tank.

The yellow tail damsel will usually need a tank that is around 20 gallons just for itself, never mind when you add a clownfish.

We know that some people have been able to keep their yellow tail damsel in a 30 gallon tank with their clownfish with minimal issues, we would usually recommend that you try to go for a 40 gallon aquarium if possible.

This should be enough to minimize the aggression between the two fish and keep them both happy.

Reading our article going over the minimum clownfish tank size requirements can also be helpful too as different types of clownfish have different tank size requirements.

You can then take the minimum tank size requirement from that article for the specific type of clownfish you want to keep and then add at least 20 gallons on top of it to keep your yellow tail damsel and clownfish in the same tank.

Should You Add Sight Breaks To The Tank?

We always recommend that our readers do their best to add some type of live plants to their aquariums due to the benefits that they offer.

Not only do live plants help with the ammonia cycle and CO2 levels in your tank but they also offer a natural hiding place for fish that also doubles up as a sight break.

A couple of plants in your tank can work wonders for reducing the aggression levels between your fish and this cheap, quick, and easy trick is often overlooked, even by experienced fish keepers.

Due to this, we would recommend that you add some live plants to act as a sight break and fish hide as a minimum to a tank with yellow tail damsels and clownfish in them.

On top of that, you can also look to add additional fish hides if you want to let the fish get away from each other and relax to help reduce the chances of you having problems with stress.