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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes
Family Blenniidae
updated Sep 2020

if you learn only 3 things about them ...
Some can give a nasty bite!
They lay their eggs in empty shells, so please put them back where you found them.
Some of them nibble on bigger living fishes!

Where seen? Small fang-blennies are sometimes encountered on some of our Southern shores, among seagrasses. Divers probably see a greater variety of blennies.

What are blennies?
Blennies belong to the Family Blenniidae. From FishBase: the family has 53 genera and 345 species. They are found in the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans mainly in tropical and subtropical marine habitats.

Features: Most blennies are small, 10-15cm or smaller. They are generally elongated, lack scales and have a slimy skin. 'Blennos' means 'mucus-like' in Greek. Most have a continuous dorsal fin along the body length and are thus somewhat eel-like. Head usually blunt with short tentacles on eyes, nose opening. As a group, they come in a wide variety of shapes, colours and patterns.

Pulau Semakau, Dec 05

East Coast, Aug 09
What do they eat? Most blennies are bottom feeders, nibbling on small animals, algae and detritus. Others eat plankton. Some blennies, however, take on larger animals, and specialise in chomping a mouthfull of scales and fins of bigger fish! To get close to their 'prey', these blennies often mimic cleaner fishes.

Fearsome little fishes: A group of blennies called the Sabre-toothed or Fang-blennies have small mouths but large teeth on their lower jaws which are mainly used for defence. Some have a venomous bite! Another group of blennies are called Combtoothed blennies which have blunt heads, a wide mouth and comb-like teeth. Some blennies are territorial and can be aggressive even towards larger animals.

Guarding eggs laid inside a Fan shell.
Tanah Merah, Sep 09

Guarding eggs laid inside a snail shell.
Pulau Pawai, Dec 09
Blenny babies: Males attract females to lay their eggs in a small hole or crevice, on or underneath empty bivalve shells, or in empty tubeworm holes. The eggs are then guarded by the male or by both parents. On our shores, blennies have been seen guarding eggs laid in large empty snail and clam shells.

Some blennies on Singapore shores

Variable fang-blenny


Rockskipper blenny

Family Blenniidae recorded for Singapore
from Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore.
*from Lim, Kelvin K. P. & Jeffrey K. Y. Low, 1998. A Guide to the Common Marine Fishes of Singapore.
**from WORMS
+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Records, etc)

  Blennies seen awaiting identification
  Oyster blenny

  Family Blenniidae
  +Enchelyurus flavipes (Yellowfin blenny)

Rockskipper blenny
*Entomacrodus lighti=Entomacrodus stellifer lighti
(Stellar rockskipper blenny)
+Entomacrodus striatus
(Black-spotted rockskipper blenny)

*Meiacanthus grammistes
(Striped fang-blenny)

+Omobranchus elongatus
(Elongate oyster-blenny)
Omobranchus ferox
(Whitebar oyster-blenny)
Omobranchus smithi (Crescent oyster blenny)

+Parablennius thysanius
(Taselled blenny)

Petroscirtes bankanensis
+Petroscirtes breviceps
(Shorthead fang-blenny)
Petroscirtes dussumieri
Petroscirtes eretes
Petroscirtes flavipes
Petroscirtes kranjinensis
Petroscirtes variabilis
(Variable fang-blenny)
Petroscirtes zebra=**Omobranchus zebra

Salarias ceramensis
Salarias dussumieri=**Istiblennius dussumieri
Salarias fasciatus
Salarias guttatus
Salarias lineatus=**Istiblennius lineatus



  • Daisuke Taira & Kelvin K. P. Lim. Shorthead fang-blenny in the Singapore Strait. 31 July 2018. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2018: 80 ISSN 2345-7597. National University of Singapore.
  • Kelvin K. P. Lim and Victor G. Springer. 31 Oct 2017. Singapore records of the crescent oyster blenny, Omobranchus smithi. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2017: 145.
  • Kelvin Lim Kok Peng & Marcus F. C. Ng. 31 Mar 2017. Records of the elongate oyster blenny, Omobranchus elongatus, in Singapore. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2017: 58-59.
  • Marcus F. C. Ng & Kelvin K. P. Lim . 26 June 2015. New record of the black-spotted rockskipper blenny in Singapore. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2015: 87
  • Kelvin K. P. Lim. 28 November 2014. New record of the tasselled blenny in Singapore, Parablennius thysanius. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2014: 303-304.
  • Ron K. H. Yeo & Kelvin K. P. Lim. 28 March 2014. Stellar rockskipper blenny at Big Sister Island. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2014: 86.
  • Ron K. H. Yeo and Kelvin K. P. Lim. 21 October 2013. Yellowfin blenny at Semakau Landfill Enchelyurus flavipes. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2013: 29.
  • Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore. National Council on the Environment. 163pp.
  • Allen, Gerry, 2000. Marine Fishes of South-East Asia: A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Periplus Editions. 292 pp.
  • Kuiter, Rudie H. 2002. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia: A Comprehensive Reference for Divers & Fishermen New Holland Publishers. 434pp.
  • Lieske, Ewald and Robert Myers. 2001. Coral Reef Fishes of the World Periplus Editions. 400pp.
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