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Blenny Fish Care Guide: Tank Setup, Mates & Breeding

Blenny fish is a hyperactive species and adds color in your aquarium. The fish has a vibrant color and exquisite appearance that makes it popular among aquarists. Blennies display daring antics that make them entertaining to watch.

This guide contains all the tips and tricks you need to know about taking care of your blenny fish in an aquarium. You will also learn about the ideal aquarium setup, its compatible fish, and other important information.

Species Overview

Blennies are saltwater fish that consist of six distinct families comprising the suborder Blennioidei. They are native to the tropical regions of the Pacific Ocean.

There are different types of blenny fish, including bicolor blenny, barnacle blenny, black comb tooth blenny, canary blenny, comical blenny, sailfin blenny, and ember blenny.

Appearance

Blennies have an elongated body similar to an eel. Some of them are so long that they resemble a snake or an eel.

Size

Their size is small, and it rarely grows more than five inches.

The fish have vibrant colors in orange, blue, brown, purple, black, white, and grey. The mouth and eyes of the fish are more significant than the rest of its body. Blenny also has distinctive whisker-like appendages on the head.

Lifespan

Blenny fish have a relatively small lifespan. Most bellies can live for up to 3 years. With proper care, they can live for two or more years. But you can’t expect them to last for a long time, even with optimal aquarium conditions.

Behavior & Temperament

Blennies are a peaceful and reclusive species. They enjoy digging and burrowing substrate inside the aquarium. The fish shows healthy benthic behavior which means they spend most of their time at the aquarium’s bottom. In the wild, the fish spends time and lay eggs on the sea bed.

Blennies are compatible with most other peaceful fish. They make an excellent addition to the community aquarium. However, the fish is also territorial and attacks its species. Therefore, you should keep a single fish of a particular species inside your aquarium.

Common Types

Blenny fish has six distinct yet related species that are known as ‘true blennies’.

Combtooth Blenny

Combtooth blenny

Combtooth blenny fish are the most common types found in most aquariums. The fish are a percomorph saltwater fish of the family Blenniidae. They got the name due to the comb-like dentition that use to scrape algae from rigid substrates.

The fish is a herbivore that feeds on frozen and dry algal foods. The fish is native to Micronesia and Guam. These can be found in the coral reefs of the Indian and Pacific oceans.

They are mostly found in shallow reef flats but also live in estuaries and other reef lagoons. Some of the regions where we can see the fish in the native include Dirk Hartog Island in Western Australia and Northern Territory, Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea, Bleau in Micronesia Yaeyama Islands in Japan.

The fish is a small species that can grow to just 2 inches. Other fish names include pale spotted comb tooth blenny, coral blenny, and Yoneyama clown blenny fish.

Labrisomid Blennies

Labrisomid diamond blenny

Labrosomid blenny fish are also a relatively larger species of blennies that grow up to 4 inches. The fish is hard to find online. They have pointier faces as compared to other species.

The body of the fish is similar to a dragonet fish. The fish can be found in the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans.

The diet of the fish includes gastropods, crustaceans, sea urchins, and brittle stars.

The dorsal fin of the fish outnumbers the pelvic fins. It has a whisker-like structure on the head, similar to all other blennies. The scales of the fish may be absent or cycloid in labrisomids.

Most of the species are brightly colored. They shy fish and spend most of the time at the bottom of the aquarium. The fish is mostly found around the Caribbean reefs. They form one of the most significant New World reef fish species with over 50 regional species.

Labrisomids have large round colorful eyes and short pointed snouts. The fish has a short caudal peduncle and pelvic fins thoracic.

The fish’s markings are the same among the species consisting of a row of melanophores along the base. Some species also have a pattern of spots on top of the head.

Labrisomids larvae are similar to other blennioid families containing reef fish. Distinguish the fish easily due to the larvae of the combtooth blennies.

They are similar to the scarids and gobies that have a matching row of melanophores. The larvae have fewer dorsal fin spines and oddly shaped eyes.

Pike Blenny

Two male orange throat pike blennies fighting

Pike blenny belongs to the family of Chaenopsidae that is available to aquarists. The common species is the Orangethroat pike blenny (Chaenopsis alepidota).

Their diet primarily consists of small fish and crustaceans. The fish can eat almost anything that fits their mount. These can be found mainly in the coral reefs in the western-central part of the Atlantic, including the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

Pike blenny can reach a maximum size of 3.3 inches. The scientific name of the fish Chaenopsis Limbaugh honors the famed diver, zoologist, and underwater photographer Conrad Limbaugh.

The fish is small similar to the comb tooth blenny. It would be best if you did not put the fish in an aquarium containing bit fish as they can become food.

The fish thrive on a rubble sandy bottom with rocks that allows them to hide in case of danger. You can also add a PVC pipe for them to use as a burrow.

The fish is slightly aggressive that will attack other species. So, you should have ample bottom space in the aquarium if you keep other blennies or gobies. The fish will not attack most other species as long as the tank is not overcrowded.

Clinid Blenny

Clinid crevice kelpfish

Clinid blenny has a striking color and appearance. Can identify the fish with its continuous, long, and soft-rayed dorsal fins and elongated bodies. Most clinid blennies are collected for a saltwater aquarium. Saltwater fish are mostly found in Indian Oceans, Pacific Oceans, and Atlantic Oceans.

They have rich coloration ranging from shades of olive to reddish-brown with cryptic patterns. The fish mostly live in areas containing dense kelp or weed.

They have a slender build due to which they are also known as eel blenny or snake blenny. Fish dorsal spines are more significant than the soft rays with two ranges in the anal fin.

Triplefin Blenny

Triplefin blenny

Triplefin blenny belongs to the family Tripterygiidae. The fish is also known as three fins fish, due to which it is also called Tripteros (Tripple fins in greek).

They are not as common as compared to other types of blenny fish. There are around 100 species of colored fish. The dorsal fin has three individual segments.

The fish are mostly found in the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Atlantic Ocean’s temperate and tropical waters. Most fish don’t grow to more than 2 inches. They are brightly colored that spend most of the time underwater.

The fish are shy and retreat to the holes, similar to other blennies. The fish show sexual dichromatism, with the females appearing drab as compared to the males. The bulk of their diet consists of invertebrates.

Sand Stargazer Blenny

Sand stargazer

Sand stargazer blenny belongs to the family Dactyloscopidae. The fish spend most of the time hidden below the seafloor’s sandy bottom, with only the mouth, nose, and eyes protruding above the sand substrate.

The fish likes to burrow, similar to other fish. It mostly has an upturned mouth that is used to catch prey. A unique branchiostegal pump allows the fish to survive while buried under the sand.

They are predators and wait for food to pass over them close to the mouth, similar to a trap door. The diet of the fish includes small invertebrates and tiny fish.

Tank Mates

Your blenny will get along with most other peaceful fish. But it would help if you exercise caution when adding the fish to an aquarium with larger or smaller fish. Large fish, such as Lionfish, will consider them as food while they consider smaller species as its food.

These are likely to attack other species as they are territorial.

Ideal Tank Conditions

They are incredibly adaptable that can thrive in different tank conditions. A 20-gallon tank is enough for one blenny fish. The water should be kept clean at all times.

While the fish can live in less than optimal water conditions, they are susceptible to certain diseases.

The ideal temperature may range from 720F to 780F (220C to 250C). The pH value of the fish should be between 8.1 and 8.4.

A reef aquarium is needed for keeping your blenny fish. You should also add a soft sandy substrate to it; blennies like rocks with plenty of holes to hide if they sense danger.

Should firmly Rock and other fixtures fixed since the fish is likely to burrow and dig the sand. The fish may also nibble on live rocks and coral and can create burrows.

Food & Diet

Your blenny fish can devour almost all types of frozen, live, and dried food. It would help if you fed a variety of food to it. The fish is known to attack and eat small fish and invertebrates in the aquarium if not adequately provided.

These are omnivores that feed on algal films and crustaceans. They are not picky eaters and will eat almost any fish food. Some of them, such as the Lawnmower blenny (Salaries spp.), mostly eat algae,

while others feed on tiny crustaceans like mysis or brine shrimp. Blennies that spend most of their time underwater, such as tennis and Gesenius, are omnivorous and will eat turfs and algal films as well as small crustaceans.

It would help if you feed them once a day diet including algae. Feed them once a week. You must provide them frozen seafood if the aquarium does not contain a lot of algae. In case the fish does not eat live or frozen food, you need to have a healthy algal group to ensure that it can survive.

They can quickly eat a crop of filamentous algae inside the tank. After all, blennies are known to eat an average of about 2 mg of dry-weight epilithic algae that grows on rocks. That’s why many aquarists add blennies to control the growth of algae inside their aquariums.

Bicolor blenny

Breeding Guidelines

Breeding blennies in an aquarium is difficult. The fish is known to lay eggs on corals and rocks on the ocean bed. Spawning in the aquarium is complex and requires some effort.

It would help if you kept the male and females in the same tank. Initially, the two will fight each other. After a while, they will be comfortable with each other’s company and hide inside a hole in the Rock.

The hatching stage is easy. You have to maintain the water temperatures between 720F and 780F (220C and 250C). But feeding young ones can be a challenge.

You should feed the fish with rotifers and change around 10 percent of the water daily. It is not accessible, due to which most breeders have a difficult time breeding the fish.

Blenny Fish Diseases

Blenny fish are hardy species that are disease resistant. They seldom pose a threat due to a parasitic or bacterial infection. But the fish can succumb to common saltwater diseases if the tank is kept dirty.

Must keep the water temperature at the ideal level. You should also clean the aquarium water regularly. Consider replacing about 25 percent of the water every week. You may have to change the water more frequently if breeding young fry.

Jumping Behavior

While blennies are bottom dwellers, they can be can spunky and flighty at times. The fish can jump out of the aquarium if given the opportunity. You should place a tight-fitting cover over the aquarium to prevent the fish from jumping out of the aquarium.

They may jump due to many reasons. Improper water conditions are the foremost reason for most blennies to jump out of the water. A high concentration of ammonia or other toxic chemicals also causes them to jump out of the water.

Dirty water contains less oxygen. It makes the fish jump in search of oxygen. Additionally, a tank without rocks or other hiding places can also cause the fish to jump out of the water. Another reason that the blennies jump out of the water is in search of food. Excessive bright lighting will also cause the fish to jump out of the aquarium.

Where to Buy?

You can find blenny fish available for sale in online stores. Most of the fish are captive bred. They are not caught in the wild. Different species of fish have been produced and available as a captive-bred specimens.

The captive-bred fish are more popular since they are hardier and more sociable. They also are less prone to diseases.

You can find many different species of blenny fish online, including the fang blenny (Meiacanthus supp.), Red Sea Mimic blenny (Ecsenius Gravieri), and the molly miller blenny (Scartella cristata).

Exotic blenny fish that you can buy online include:

  • Feather blenny (Hypsoblennius Hentz)
  • Striped Blenny (Chasmodes Bosquianus)
  • Seaweed blenny (Parablennius Marmoreus)
  • Peacock blenny (Salaria Pavo)
  • Seaweed blenny (Parablennius Marmoreus)

All of these fish have been captive-bred and cultured for the aquarium fish trade.

You should be careful if you select the Bluestriped Fang blenny (Plagiotremus Rhinorhynchos). The fish imitates the dance of a Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse and then bites a larger fish. It may not kill the fish since the venom has only a numbing effect. But you will have to tend to an injured fish.

Wrapping Up

Easy to keep in an aquarium, the saltwater blenny fish is recommended for beginner aquarists. You won’t have much difficulty taking good care of the fish as it is resistant to most diseases.

But it would be best if you kept the water conditions at the optimal level to ensure that they live a long, healthy life.