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Combtooth Blennies

(Blenniidae)

Sandperches Triplefin Blennies

Combtooth blennies are a large family of over 400 species and have comb-like teeth lining their jaws. Generally small, typically under 15cm, this fish often has a blunt head, large eyes located high on the side of the head and a wide mouth low on the head. Their bodies are long, thin and scaleless with long dorsal and anal fins. Many species have slender tentacles or fleshy crests on top of the head.

Generally living on or near the bottom, they often inhabit rocky crevices, holes in coral, discarded shells and burrows in the sand. Some species feed on algae and bottom-dwelling crustaceans, mollusks and invertebrates. Some feed on plankton, and some specific species feed on the skin or fins of larger fish.

6 species found on this page.

Spotted Blenny

Ecsenius stictus

Spotted Blenny (Ecsenius stictus) @ Koh Rok

Ecsenius stictus @ Koh Rok

The Spotted Blenny has a light grey body with a horizontal mid-body stripe with dark borders from the back of the head to the tail.

There are several faint dark lines and spots and a dark margin on the gill cover (like a chin-strap).

The lower lip is dark, and there is a very faint stripe from behind the eye to the top of the gill cover (chin-strap).

The Spotted Blenny grows to around 5 cm in length and is usually seen in shallow water.

Bicolour Blenny

Ecsenius bicolor

The Bicolour Blenny has many colour variations. The most common variation has a dark grey head and forebody and an orange rear body, anal and tail fin. The ciri are very fine and almost as long as the eye diameter.

Bicolour Blenny (Ecsenius bicolor) @ Koh Bida

Ecsenius bicolor @ Koh Bida

The White-belly Variation of the Bicolour Blenny has a dark grey upper body and white lower body. Some variations may be similar, but with a yellow rear body.

Bicolour Blenny (Ecsenius bicolor) @ Koh Haa

Bicolour Blenny @ Koh Haa

Other variations can be brown, reddish brown, and so on. This species is very variable.

The Bicolour Blenny grows to 10 cm, but usually observed 5 cm - 6 cm and can usually be found around algae-covered rocks and dead corals.

Bluestriped Fangblenny

Plagiotremus rhinorhynchos

The Bluestriped Fangblenny has a variable body colour from black to dark orange to orangish yellow, with a pair of bright blue stripes from the snout to the tail on each side, and a smaller, short stripe in the middle of the head. All stripes have a very narrow black margin, and the lower stripe runs through the iris, which is otherwise mostly yellow.

Bluestriped Fangblenny (Plagiotremus rhinorhynchos) @ Koh Haa

Plagiotremus rhinorhynchos @ Koh Haa

The Bluestriped Fangblenny is often observed close to healthy corals, hiding in abandoned tube worm holes when threatened by divers or other fish.

Bluestriped Fangblenny (Plagiotremus rhinorhynchos) @ Koh Haa

Plagiotremus rhinorhynchos Orange Variation @ Koh Haa

The Bluestriped Fangblenny grows to 12 cm in length and may occasionally bite a diver.

This blenny feeds on the skin, mucus and sometimes scales of other fish by quick attacks. Can approach target fish by mimicking cleaner wrasse.

Bluestriped Fangblenny (Plagiotremus rhinorhynchos) @ Koh Haa

Plagiotremus rhinorhynchos Dark Variation @ Koh Haa

Eared Blenny

Cirripectes auritus

Eared Blenny (Cirripectes auritus) @ Koh Haa

Cirripectes auritus @ Koh Haa

The Eared Blenny has a brown to pinkish red body, with small dark spots on the sides, and a dark ?ear? spot.

The Eared Blenny has fringe-like cirri on the top of the head.

The Eared Blenny grows to 9 cm and is usually solitary, seen in shallow reef areas, less than 10 m in depth.

False Cleanerfish

Aspidontus taeniatus

False Cleanerfish (Aspidontus taeniatus) @ Koh Rok

Aspidontus taeniatus @ Koh Rok

The False Cleanerfish has a whitish to pale blue body with a gradually widening dark band from the snout to the tail. The upper body may be slightly yellowish in colour.

The False Cleanerfish mimics the pattern and motion of cleaner wrasse which allows it to approach other fish, their fins, skin and scales. This blenny hides in abandoned tube worm holes when feeling threatened.

The False Cleanerfish grows to 11 cm and looks nearly identical to the Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus.

The False Cleanerfish can be distinguished from the Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse by the position of its mouth, which is at the end of the snout in the wrasse but under the snout in the blenny.

Disco Smith's Fangblenny

Meiacanthus smithi

Disco Smith's Fangblenny (Meiacanthus smithi) @ Koh Haa

Meiacanthus smithi @ Koh Haa

Disco Smith's Fangblenny has a pale grey body. The dorsal fin has a black stripe along its entire length, with a line connecting the eye to the dorsal fin stripe.

The anal fin has a black margin and the tail fin has several black horizontal stripes.

Disco Smith?s Fangblenny grows to 8 cm and is seen in shallower reef areas, solitary, or in pairs.

Named after the South African ichthyologist (studies fish), James Leonard Brierley Smith.

Find Out More: Marine Life References and Further Information

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