The Garibaldi Damselfish is a cool water or subtropical fish species found off the Western coast of southern California down to the Mexican state of Baja California and Guadalupe Island. They are typically found living near rocky reef slopes, rocky sea-bottoms and in kelp forests in the more northern part of their range. The Garibaldi Damsel is the official marine state fish of California and is protected in all Californian coastal waters. It is quite common in the range from Santa Catalina Island down to La Jolla Cove (San Diego). Unlike the Damselfish species that are most commonly available within the marine hobby, the Garibaldi Damselfish grows to over a foot in length and can live upwards of 25 years, which is more common to large Angelfish than Damselfish.
A proper aquarium environment for the Garibaldi Damselfish should first and foremost provide plenty of open swimming room, including at least 6 feet in length on the long side of the aquarium. Secondly, the aqua scape should contain plenty of rocky formations that have both caves and crevices in order to provide territory and mimic the fishes natural habitat. The water temperature should be around 68°F to 70°F for optimal conditions and should not exceed 75°F. Garibaldi are also used to water that is highly saturated with dissolved oxygen, thus the hobbyists should utilize both wet/dry filtration and powerheads or wave makers to ensure that the was has high amounts of dissolved oxygen.
The simple fact with Garibaldi Damselfish is that they grow large, are aggressive and are very territorial towards others of their own kind or similarly shaped and sized other fish species. In the wild they will claim a territory that provides plenty of rocky caves and crevices in which they can hunt for food and also seek protection from larger predatory fish. They will look for a similar type of area within the aquarium and will defend their chosen territory vigorously. Aquariums that are too small in size or footprint will cause problems as the Garibaldi Damselfish is likely to see the entire aquarium as their own. As they can live upwards of 25 years in the wild, they take protecting their home territory very seriously since they plan on being there for a long time.
Hobbyists need to provide them with a large aquarium containing both open swimming areas and plenty of rocky aqua scaping so that they can maintain a suitable territory and tolerate other tank mates. Tank mates must be carefully considered as well, since they will need to be large enough and tough enough to be able to coexist with the Garibaldi Damselfish. Lastly, with a wild diet that consists mainly of crustaceans and invertebrates, the Garibaldi Damselfish is only suitable for large FOWLR aquariums as they will make a meal out of crabs, shrimp, snails or other similar invertebrate species.
In nature the Garibaldi Angelfish feeds primarily on small invertebrates that it catches in rocky crevices and on the rocky sea bed. In the marine aquarium environment it is best to feed them a variety of marine based meaty foods including: krill, shrimp, squid, clams, etc. A mix of fresh, frozen and quality dried foods will provide an economical and balanced nutritional diet. It is best to feed them twice a day an amount of food that they will consume within a few minutes. Hobbyists should always be keeping an eye on the overall girth and appearance of their fish and adjust feeding schedule accordingly.