More About Blennies

Xiphasia setifer, also know as the snake blenny A Very Unusual Blenny – The Snake Blenny – Xiphasia setifer, a.k.a., Eel Blenny, Hairtail Blenny or Snake Eel Blenny, this Indo-Pacific species is one of my favorites because it is so unusual. We encounter them occasionally, because we frequent their turf – mucky or sandy bottoms. It is difficult to get good footage because they are either entrenched in their burrows or swimming back really fast to escape from us! I shot this video years ago in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, when I found one out feeding:


The Scooter Blenny is actually a dragonet!



When is a Blenny not a Blenny? When it is a Scooter Blenny. Although blennydom should be happy to count such a lovely little fish among its members, the Scooter Blenny is not a blenny – it is a dragonet.



A Convict Blenny is not a blenny. Even we are guilty of perpetuating this name. Pholidichthys leucotaenia is not a blenny (nor a goby); it is in fact in its own family. The correct common name is Convict Fish. I am obsessed with this fish and will write a complete post about them later. There are lots of photos of the adult on the internet - taken mostly in aquariums. I understand from my aquarist friends that they are much more colorful and not as cryptic as the adults in the wild. Here are photos of the juveniles and the very much larger (and dark) adult:

Adult Convict Fish, Pholidichthys leucotaenia, cleaning its burrow.

Juvenile Convict Fish, Pholidicthys leucotaenia, return to their burrow.










Blenny Invader: The Pacific Red Lionfish has received a lot of press for its unwelcome presence in the Western Atlantic but blennies have also invaded and become established. The Muzzled Blenny, Omobranchus punctatus, a native of the Indo-Pacific, has been reported from the Atlantic, Caribbean, eastern Africa and Mediterranean. The first record of the blenny in the Caribbean was in 1931 when it was described as a new species, based on a specimen from Trinidad. That was corrected in 1975 when the 1931 specimen was found to be O. punctatus. Known also from Panama, Colombia, Trinidad, Tobago and Brazil, the blenny is believed to have been introduced by ship, possibly in ballast water or barnacles.

Thanks for visiting! I’ll post more bits about blennies soon, so please check back in from time to time. Want to tell us about your blenny sightings? Visit our BlennyWatcher FaceBook page and “Like” us.

15 comments to More About Blennies

  • Sol Foo

    Hi Anna,

    Thanks for inviting me to your site! I love it! Especially the videos!! Keep it coming! :o )

    Best regards,

  • admin

    Greetings Sol,
    Thanks for visiting. I have lots of videos to share!

  • Could I ask you if this is photo ( is a Redspotted Blenny? I took this photo with my iphone while snorkeling off the Cambodian coast. Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Ben, it doesn’t quite look like the Red-spotted to me. The ones I’ve seen have a more distinctive face profile and when out of their holes have a smoother set of markings on their sides. That said, it is tough to identify from one photo. It does look like a Blenniella of some kind – maybe one of the rockskippers?

  • Mercedes

    I am fascinated with blennies! It all started three days ago when I was flipping through a book of marine life and came upon the most /wonderful/ sight. A BLENNY! :D I thought it was beautiful, anyway. Also, I did not know that the scooter blenny wasn’t a Blenny at all, but a dragonet. I thought the dragonets and Blennies were very closely related?

  • Dave with Emeritus

    Once I received your email I decided to check out you page. I find it very interesting and I enjoy the educational piece of it. Learned something new about Blennies. I use to Scuba and it makes me want to get back to it after my kids grow up.

    • Thanks Dave! Scuba is such a wonderful portal to the underwater world that we started this blog to share the fun with divers and non-divers alike. Hope you’ll get back to it one of these days! ~ Anna

  • adam

    stumbled across your videos on youtube, brilliant. I have become enthralled by blennies so much so I ditched the fishing line for a aquarium I have my own starry blenny amazing little character

  • Thanks, Adam! The Starry Blenny is one of my all time favorites – so much personality!

  • Joe

    Oh wow, that snake blenny video is remarkable! I know that a lot of fish groups have evolved into eel like shapes but that blenny really does look like an eel when it is out swimming. Great footage!

    Pholidichthys leucotaenia really is a unique, fascinating species. Do you know if there has been much research done on it’s reproductive behaviour? I have heard of pretty incredible stuff about this creature such as juveniles possibly feeding the adults! How accurate is that information? Thanks!

    • Thanks Joe! The Snake Blenny is sometimes called the “eel” blenny too. The first time we saw one, we thought it was an eel.

      Pholidichthys leucotaenia (common name: Convict Fish) is another of my obsessions – I have spent hours watching them in the wild. I don’t recall reading anything about their reproductive behavior other than an occasional mention of hatchings in an aquarium. Re: feeding – I believe scientists speculated that the juveniles might be feeding the adults because examination of stomach contents of adults only revealed “fully digested liquid” and based on the behavior exhibited when juveniles (that had been out feeding on plankton all day) return to the burrow at dusk: some of them swim in and out of the adult’s mouth. This was from information published over 8 years ago and I haven’t seen anything more recent.

      • Joe

        Thanks for the reply. Interesting stuff about the convict fish. Do the adults ever leave their burrows? And if so, have they even been observed to feed on anything else? I am surprised that this behaviour has not been looked into more. Surely this is one of those mysteries that biologists would be chomping at the bit to piece together!

        • In the ocean, I’ve never personally observed an adult extend its head more than about 6 inches out of its burrow. I have seen images of adults in aquariums that are completely out. Dr. Eugenie Clark has studied these fish extensively in the wild and in her lab but I don’t know if she has published anything recently about their natural history.

  • Gwendolyn

    Hello there,

    I’m interested in a serpent blenny. I’ve seen a few pictures, and I’m dying to have one. None of my local pet stores have one. Do you have any suggestions of online sites that sell serpent blennies?

    I’d be so grateful!

  • Hi Gwendolyn,
    Sorry, I can’t help, but an online search might yield results. After watching these fish in the wild, I’m not certain how they would handle captivity, but really don’t know.