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Lemon Damselfish (Pomacentrus moluccensis)

Lemon Damselfish (Pomacentrus moluccensis)

Lemon Damselfish (Pomacentrus moluccensis)

Lemon Damselfish (Pomacentrus moluccensis)

Lemon Damselfish (Pomacentrus moluccensis) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Golden Damselfish, Molucca Damsel, and Molucca Demoiselle are native to tropical Western Pacific waters with a range that extends from about 32°N to 32°S, and 92°E to 173°W.

Adult Lemon Damselfish are found alone, in pairs, but more often in small groups in coral rich areas of the sheltered reefs and clear water lagoons of their range, among branching Acropora robusta and Lace coral heads where they feed on among the substrate, at depths between 3 to over 46 feet.

Like Ternate Damselfish (amblyglyphidodon ternatensis); Pomacentrus moluccensis are a non-migratory, reef dependent species that forage on microalgae and small planktonic invertebrates above the coral heads during the daylight hours, and shelter among the coral branches at night to protect themselves from predators.    They are so coral dependent that following periods of coral bleaching, Lemon Damselfish numbers have been shown to decline dramatically.

Lemon Damselfish (Pomacentrus moluccensis)

Lemon Damselfish (Pomacentrus moluccensis)

Except for fish from the Philippines; Lemon Damselfish have a bright yellow body color with a small orange spot at the base of the rather short pectoral fin.  They have a shallow forked caudal fin with rounded lobes.  Some individuals may display blue lines across the head and fins.  The orange spot at the base of the pectoral fin is absent in specimens collected from the Philippines.  The bright yellow body color slightly diminishes as Lemon Damselfish mature into adulthood.

Odd numbered groups of six or more Lemon Damselfish can be housed in a mature FOWLR or reef aquarium of at least 30 gallon capacity with a sand or fine gravel substrate and plenty of live rock arranged into crevices, caves, and overhangs for them to hide among. Lemon Damselfish are completely reef safe and will not disturb corals or invertebrates in a reef tank.  Although solitary juvenile individuals can occasionally become territorial towards their own kind or similar sized fish, they will generally ignore other invertebrates, corals, and other fish in a peaceful species tank.

Larger tanks with plenty of live rock are recommended for keeping larger schools of Pomacentrus moluccensis with other peaceful to semi aggressive fish species. Although juveniles are generally peaceful to semi aggressive, they can become more territorial as they grow into adults, especially when sufficient hiding places are not available for them.

Lemon Damselfish have been successfully bred in captivity commercially for tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.  During the breeding season in their natural habitat, the fish pair off and after a brief courtship ritual, the female will lay a mass of small adhesive eggs on the substrate, often a cleaned piece of Pocillopora damicornis.   After fertilizing the demersl eggs, the male guards and aerates the eggs until the larvae hatch out.  The tiny fry in their larval stage will drift with the current as plankton feeding on zooplankton and phytoplankton before settling to the bottom as partially developed damselfish. During the spawning season, males will often mate with multiple females.

Lemon Damselfish are frequently preyed on by Cephalopholis boenak and Pseudochromis fuscus; especially during the breeding season. This is why they shelter and prefer breeding among high shelter environments such as Pocillopora damicornis, which they are more able to evade and survive in, than low shelter ones like Acropora nobilis.

Lemon Damselfish are omnivores that require a varied diet of meaty items, herbivore flakes or pellets, and frozen foods to thrive.  Live, frozen, or freeze dried brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, finely chopped clams, fresh fish, and Spirulina flakes will all be eagerly accepted. Feeding a varied diet several times a day is recommended.

Although Lemon Damselfish (Pomacentrus moluccensis) are not a common item in the the aquarium trade; tropical fish keeping enthusiasts can occasionally find them online from wholesalers, trans shippers, and retailers at prices varying from $12.99 to $19.99 at an approximate purchase size of: 3/4″ to 1-1/2″

Lemon Damselfish (Pomacentrus moluccensis)

Lemon Damselfish (Pomacentrus moluccensis)






Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Aquarium Type: Reef or FOLR
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Semi Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-78°F, dKH 8 to 12 , pH 8.1 – 8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Max size: 2¾”
Color Form: Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Reef With Caution
Origin: Western Pacific Ocean
Family: Pomacentridae
Lifespan: 5 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

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