Damselfish Garden, Reef Damage Caused by Fish

 Bon Dia friends, it’s finally Friday!! Remember way back when I sent you a photo of a pillar coral with green alga on top??  I had told you I thought it was a dying colony of coral or some kind of coral disease?  Well here’s the exact same thing except this time it’s on a big colony of grooved brain coral. See the little damselfish at the top of the coral head? He did this damage to this beautiful coral, it’s called a “Damselfish Garden. My friend Nick who is a coral expert explains below just what your looking at, it’s very interesting so read on. Nick writes, the story with the damselfish is that they find a bit of coral they like and peck off the living coral tissue. The exposed skeleton becomes overgrown with algae that the damsel fish like to eat. The fish defend these little farm territories so aggressively that they will even chase off larger herbivores like parrotfish that would quickly clear away the algae (I have definitely had them bite my fingers while working with the corals & once had one hit me right between the eyes…good thing I had a facemask on). Apparently with the decline of larger predatory fish on reefs worldwide, these little guys have become much more abundant and can be a real threat to reef health.  The photo you took is a great example, where you have what appears to be a perfectly healthy coral missing tissue only on that patch at the top where there is a thick mat of green algae growing on the white skeleton. When I was shooting this I watched this little damselfish chase off many other bigger fish who thought they could MORE: Damselfish Garden, Reef Damage Caused by Fish
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