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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrata > fishes > Family Pseudochromidae
Carpet eel-blenny
Congrogadus subducens

Family Pseudochromidae
updated Oct 2016

if you learn only 3 things about it ...
Often mistaken for an eel or snake, it is actually a harmless fish.
It may be green, brown or even bluish.
It is well camouflaged. Don't step on it!

Where seen? This snake-like fish is commonly seen on many of our shores, among coral rubble and near seagrasses. Most are well camouflaged and are thus often overlooked. Big ones trapped in small pools at low tide, especially, usually hide deep under coral rubble with perhaps only a bit of their tail sticking out. But small ones may be seen swimming about in larger pools among seagrass or coral rubble.

What are carpet eel-bleenies? Often mistaken for a snake, this fish is not even an eel! It belongs to the Family Pseudochromidae (also called Dottybacks). According to FishBase: The family has 16 genera and 98 species. Most are live in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Many of the other members of the family are smaller and a lot shorter (about 10cm long or less), and some are very colourful. Carpet eel-blennies belong to the subfamily Congrogadinae (they were previously in a separate family Congrogadidae).

Features: Up to 30cm long, those seen are about 10-15cm long. Body cylindrical, somewhat flattened sideways, tapering to an eel-like tail, with the dorsal, anal and tail fins continous. Unlike true eels, it has pectoral fins and scales. Large mouth with thick lips, and large eyes near the top of the head.

Being long and narrow, the fish can easily squirm through tight openings and hide in crevices. Its floral markings add to its camouflage. It can also change its colours. Besides the more commonly seen greenish ones, colours seen include brown, black, bright green and even bluish ones.

Sometimes mistaken for sea snakes or eels (Family Muraenidae). Here's more on how to tell apart sea snakes, eels and eel-like animals.

What does it eat? The Carpet eel-blenny preys on small fish, crabs and shrimps. It usually hunts alone.

Eel-blenny babies: Carpet eel-blennies lay their eggs in small clumps.

Human uses: Although large, the Carpet eel-blenny is not eaten by people. It is, however, harvested from the wild for the live aquarium trade and sold as "wolf eels". But they are not the most popular aquarium fish, as they tend to eat their tankmates.

Status and threats: Other dottybacks are more popular in the aquarium trade. Harvesting may involve the use of cyanide or blasting, which damage the habitat and kill many other creatures. Like other fish and creatures harvested from the sea, most die before they can reach the retailers. Without professional care, most die soon after they are sold. Those that do survive are unlikely to breed successfully. Like other creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution. Poaching by hobbyists also have an impact on local populations.

Often lurking among living soft corals.
Pulau Hantu, Aug 04

To chomp on passing fishes!
Sisters Island, Aug 09

Small ones 10cm or less often seen too.
Labrador, May 02

They come in a wide range of colours.
Chek Jawa, Oct 01

Tiny one hunting among Hairy green seaweed.
Sisters Island, May 12

Pulau Sekudu, Jun 05

Carpet eel-blennies on Singapore shores

Photos of Carpet eel-blennies for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map

Pulau Ubin, Jul 17
Photo shared by Abel Yeo on facebook.

Punggol, Jun 11
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

East Coast Park, Jun 13
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Tanah Merah, Aug 09
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her blog.

Tanah Merah, Dec 09
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Sentosa, Apr 10
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her blog.

Cyrene Reef, May 08
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Cyrene Reef, Jul 10
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on his flickr.

Cyrene Reef, Jun 16
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Caught a Diamond tuskfish.

Pulau Tekukor, May 10
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

Pulau Jong, Apr 11
Photo shared by Russel Low on facebook.

Terumbu Selegie, Jun 11
Photo shared byJames Koh on his blog.

Beting Bemban Besar, Apr 10
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her blog.

Terumbu Bemban, Apr 11
Photo shared by Rene Ong on facebook.

Beting Bemban Besar, May 11
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Pulau Pawai, Dec 09

Terumbu Pempang Kecil, Jan 15
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

Raffles Lighthouse, Aug 08
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Pulau Berkas, May 10

Family Pseudochromidae 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.
+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Records, etc)

  Family Pseudochromidae
  +Pseudochromis ransonneti

*Congrogadus subducens
(Carpet eel-blenny)

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