Stark’s Damselfish (Chrysiptera starcki)

Stark’s Damselfish (Chrysiptera starcki)

Stark’s Damselfish (Chrysiptera starcki)

Stark’s Damselfish (Chrysiptera starcki) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Stark’s Demoiselle or Starcki Damsel is found in the Western Pacific from the Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan, and south to Australia, New Caledonia, and Tonga. Recent genetic studies on Starcki populations from Tonga and specimens from Philippines reefs suggest that the two are markedly different.

Stark’s Damselfish are found alone and occasionally in pairs on coral reefs, rocky outcrops, and among the crevices and sandy channels on the deeper outer reef slopes in depths from 65 to over 200 feet, where they feed on algae, zooplankton, and phytoplankton.

Stark’s Damselfish (Chrysiptera starcki)

Stark’s Damselfish (Chrysiptera starcki)

The Starcki Damsel has a bright blue body with a bright yellow stripe running the length of the dorsal to the tail. The jaw of the fish is yellow.

The Tonga and Australian populations have a caudal peduncle that is mostly yellow, with sparse specks of blue. The tail lobes are more emarginate and slightly forked at the tip.

Populations from the Philippines and upwards to Japan have blue on the entire caudal peduncle, as well as part of the rays on the tail. The lobes of the tail are also rounded, not forked like Australian populations.

Stark’s Damselfish are a semi aggressive species that can be housed as a single specimen in a mature FOWLR or reef tank of at least 30 gallon capacity with a sand or fine gravel substrate, plenty of live rock arranged into crevices, holes, overhangs, and caves for them to hide among, and lots of free swimming space.

Juvenile Stark’s Damselfish are not very aggressive, but as they grow larger they can be intolerant of their own kind, similar looking species, or anything that infringes in its territory.   Although only one specimen should be housed in a 30 gallon tank, a pair can be housed in a 100 gallon or larger tank provided plenty of hiding places are available.   Chrysiptera starcki are completely reef safe with corals and will ignore invertebrates.

The Stark’s Damselfish is a substrate spawner that pairs up to breed and will spawn in reef tanks. They have been bred in an aquarium environment, however, the eggs and larvae are quite small, subject to predation in the tank, and the fry are extremely difficult to rear.

During breeding, the male will prepare a territory full of rubble for the female to deposit her eggs and then quickly swim back and forth flashing his colors to entice a receptive female.   After the female deposits her adhesive, demersal eggs, the male will then fertilize and aggressively defend them from any intruders.   The fertilized eggs are aerated by the male until they are hatched out.   The tiny hatched larvae drift away with the current as plankton, feeding on the other zooplankton and phytoplankton until they eventually settle to the bottom.

Stark’s Damselfish are omnivores that feed on zooplankton and algae in their natural environment.   In an aquarium environment, they should be fed a variety of fresh, frozen, or freeze dried vitamin enriched foods to thrive and maintain their bright colors.   They are not fussy eaters and will accept frozen vitamin enriched brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, algae flakes, etc.

Although Stark’s Damselfish (Chrysiptera starcki) have been sold in fish shops to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts for over a decade, they are still not commonly traded and are more expensive than most damselfish. This is probably because they tend to occur mainly in deeper waters, which makes collection more difficult.

They are available online from wholesale and retail sites at the following approximate purchase sizes: Small: 3/4″ to 1-1/4 ; Medium: 1-1/4″ to 2-1/4″ ; Large: 2 1/4″ to 3 1/4. The medium size from the Coral Sea currently sell for $89.99.

Stark’s Damselfish (Chrysiptera starcki)

Stark’s Damselfish (Chrysiptera starcki)





Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Aquarium Type: Reef, FOLR
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Semi Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-78°F, dKH 8 to 12 , pH 8.1 – 8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Max. Size: 3.5″
Color Form: Blue, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Reef
Origin: West Pacific
Family: Pomacanthidae
Lifespan: 5 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

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