Gulf Signal Blenny Fish – Profile | Care | Tankmates

gulf signal blenny

The Gulf signal blenny, scientific name Emblemaria hypacanthus, is a species of chaenopsid blenny identified from the Gulf of California, within the eastern central Pacific ocean. It could possibly attain the most size of 5 centimeters ( in) TL. This species feeds totally on zooplankton.

Gulf Signal Blenny profile

Identified for his or her algae-eating skills, blennies of the genus Emblemaria could make excellent reef residents supplied sure primary necessities are met.

The grasp reefkeeper explains how one can add these blennies to your individual setup.

Gulf Signal Blenny Facts

Abundance: Common.
Cites: Not listed.
Climate Zone: North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California); Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap).
Depth Range Max: 10 m.
Depth Range Min: 1 m.
Diet: zooplankton.
Eastern Pacific Range: Northern limit=31; Southern limit=24; Western limit=-115; Eastern limit=-110; Latitudinal range=7; Longitudinal range=5.
Egg Type: Benthic; Pelagic larva.
Feeding Group: Carnivore; Planktivore.
FishBase Habitat: Demersal.
Global Endemism: Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) endemic; East Pacific endemic; All species.
Habitat: Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom); Sand & gravel; Soft bottom (mud, sand,gravel, beach, estuary & mangrove); Soft bottom only; Barnacles & worm tubes.
Inshore Offshore: Inshore; Inshore Only.
IUCN Red List: Not evaluated / Listed.
Length Max: 5 cm.
Regional Endemism: Continent; Continent only; TEP endemic; Continental TEP endemic; Cortez province endemic; All species.
Residency: Resident.
Salinity: Marine; Marine Only.
Water Column Position: Bottom; Bottom only;

These blennies are algivorous, and due to this, they’re typically launched to the aquarium to manage hair algae.

The most well-liked with aquarists are the lawnmower blennies. The 13 species within the genus Salaries belong to the subfamily Salariinaeand are sometimes collectively known as combtooth blennies.

They aren’t probably the most colorful family members, however, the color normally consists of bands, stripes, and spots in hues of brown, inexperienced, and cream.

Their color patterns usually assist them to vanish in opposition to the reef substrate.


Eastern Central Pacific: Gulf of California

Gulf Signal Blenny Description

Dorsal rays XX-XXII, 13-16, whole dorsal parts 34-38 (normally 35-36); anal rays II, 22-25; pectoral rays 13; spines absent on prime of the head; two longitudinal bony ridges on snout; pelvic fins longer than pectoral fins; spinous dorsal fin strongly elevated and sail-like in males, low or with first 1 or 2 spines very barely elevated in females; males with small, weakly developed, flag-like flaps on the anterior fringe of first dorsal backbone, close to the base, typically with deep notches between entrance spines; bony flange below eye not expanded and never overlapping higher lip in males.

Males normally black to darkish brown or tan with darkish brown bars or blotches alongside the center of aspect, cirri above eyes pink with black tip; females with the extremely variegated sample, normally a row of small brown spots alongside the center of the side and brown saddle-like marks under the base of the dorsal fin.

Size: to five cm.

Gulf Signal Blenny Look

Two species of blennies might be discovered within the Chesapeake Bay: the striped blenny, Chasmodes bosquianus, and the feather blenny, Hypsoblennius Hentz.

The blenny’s scaleless physique grows Three to four inches in size and is olive inexperienced in color with small, darkish spots on the top.

Lengthy, steady dorsal fins run alongside it again. Striped blennies have strains that run alongside the edges: males are vibrant blue and females are pale inexperienced.

Males even have a vibrant blue spot on the entrance of the dorsal fin and an orange band working alongside the fin’s total size.

Feather blennies have two feathery, branching tentacles on the top. The physique is roofed with small, darkish spots that typically kind strains or bars.

Gulf Signal Blenny Feeding Habits

Blennies primarily eat small mollusks and crustaceans. People fluctuate in their usefulness in controlling a number of the dreaded hair algae species. A few of the bigger species (e.g., S. fasciatus) often eat filamentous algae.

Nevertheless, there are particular Emblemaria that are likely to ignore it, selecting as a substitute to rasp diatoms and different unicellular microalgae off the aquarium glass or stay rock.

It has been prompt that those who incessantly feed them different meals, they are going to be extra reluctant to dine on the dreaded hair algae.


Make sure that your lawnmower blennies are getting sufficient to eat by often inspecting the contour of their bellies and dorsal musculature.

If they’re trying pinched in, you have to feed them extra or transfer them to a tank with a greater microalgae crop.

An occasional specimen can also browse on macroalgae, though they don’t seem to be as nicely tailored to consuming these plant varieties.

One other profit to conserving these fishes within the dwelling aquarium is that their feeding exercise will fire up sediment on a rock, placing detritus in suspension the place it may be eliminated by mechanical filters (bigger people are particularly good at stirring up detritus).


Bigger fish resembling striped bass, bluefish, and weakfish will prey on blennies, who conceal from predators throughout the small crevices of oyster reefs.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Spawning happens from early spring by way of August. Females lay spherical, amber-colored eggs within empty oyster shells, normally inside oyster reefs. Males aggressively guard the eggs till they hatch.

Although they’re plentiful, blennies are solitary, secretive fish and aren’t incessantly seen. With a bit of luck, you might discover one hiding inside an empty oyster shell within the Bay’s shallows.


The Emblemaria species are residents of tropical, shallow coastal habitats. They usually are discovered on fringing reefs or on lagoon patch reefs and rubble patches.

These blennies often stay amongst coral rubble, macroalgae, or branching stony corals, or on the base of sponges.

Emblemaria spp. are most frequently discovered at depths of lower than 15 meters (50 ft). There’s one newly described species (in 2005), S. reticulatus, that inhabits recent water in south India.

These blennies pound the substrate with their versatile jaws and comb-like enamel.

Whereas they do eat some algae (the quantity varies from one species to the following), current research has proven their major supply of meals is detritus within the type of detrital aggregates.

As a result of detritus is commonly neglected in food-habit research, its significance as Emblemaria meals has long been neglected.

These blennies scrape these materials off exhausting surfaces (e.g., coral rock, useless coral skeletons), together with some algae.

They may even by the way ingest tiny invertebrates. For instance, the food plan of S. fasciatus has been reported to incorporate filamentous algae, diatoms, foraminiferans (shelled protozoa), tiny crustaceans, detritus, and sand.

Occasionally, this species may even eat fish eggs, sponges, and small snails. They ingest a major quantity of calcium carbonate as they feed, which isn’t unusual for herbivores with much less selective feeding techniques.

Whereas lots of the Emblemaria spp. eat some algae, some steer away from the filamentous kinds that may overgrow our aquariums.

For instance, S. patzneri selectively feeds on smaller particles lower than 125 mm in measurement (primarily detritus) and avoids these in more than 250 mm (that’s, algal filaments).

These blennies lay demersal eggs, which they deposit in shells (e.g., empty tridacnid valves). The male tends the eggs till they hatch.

Feeding Exercise

These researchers discovered that S. fasciatus takes around 3,000 bites on the substrate per day. This blenny feeds repeatedly all through the day, reaching a peak in foraging exercise.

Round Heron Island, the feeding charge dropped down, then elevated once more. It has been prompt that this dip in feeding charges could also be in response to a rise in feeding exercise by giant herbivores.

Parrotfishes, surgeonfishes, and rabbitfishes could invade blenny territories right now and preclude the blenny from feeding.

Whereas the gulf signal blenny has a full intestine, the speed of intestine evacuation will increase thereafter, as does the feeding charge.


Townsend and Tibbetts (2004) checked out interspecific aggression in S. fasciatus. It was discovered that the gulf signal blenny is most aggressive towards different blennies—particularly species/people which are the identical measurement or smaller than it’s.

About 90 p.c of the blennies (together with conspecifics, AtroEmblemaria fuscus, and Ecsenius mandibularis) that entered an S. fasciatus territory had been chased, whereas 20 p.c of the damsels that invaded its turf had been hounded.

On uncommon events, they do chase different herbivores, however, they usually ignore non-trophic opponents. It was discovered to be a lot much less aggressive than the sympatric Ward’s damsel.

Damsels and Blennies

The gulf signal blenny (in addition to another species) coexists in damselfish territories, with the 2 species usually ignoring each other. On Heron Island reefs, S. fasciatus has commonly discovered dwelling throughout the territory of P. wardi.

Despite the fact that you may assume that they’re meal opponents, this relationship could also be useful to each fish.

There could also be a number of causes the damsel tolerates the blenny’s presence. By chasing out confamilials of comparable or smaller measurement, S. fasciatus saves the damsel vitality and time.

In this manner, the Emblemaria could exclude smaller blennies with increased metabolic wants from the damsel’s territory (lowering competitors).

It could even be that the damsels and blennies don’t have as much dietary overlap as soon as thought.

The territorial pomacentridae are selective grazers, whereas the salariine blennies are much less discriminating.

The damsels are in a position to get sufficient to eat in a shorter time interval than the blenny.

The pomacentridae can then make investments much less time in feeding and extra time in territory protection.

Captive Care

Of the 13 species within the genus, one is frequent within the aquarium commerce and a number of others make common appearances in native fish shops.

As talked about above, the members of the genus Emblemaria are sometimes employed to help within the management of filamentous algae.

Actually, S. fasciatus is likely one of the hottest algae-eating fishes.

They’re additionally fascinating to look at. They may sprint from one location to the following after which pound on the substrate with their open jaws (they seem like an aquatic woodpecker!).

When threatened, they may dart right into a crevice or again right into a gap within the rock, typically leaving their head protruding in order that they’ll see what’s going on around them.

gulf signal blenny

Tank Introduction

There isn’t any doubt that the Emblemaria spp. are likely to do higher when there’s a wholesome movie of microalgae within the tank.

For that reason, their finest launched to a tank that has been arranging for a number of months.

This may guarantee there may be sufficient meals out there for them in the event that they initially refuse added aquarium fare.

With time, many people will settle for frozen preparations for herbivores and extra meaty meals (e.g., brine shrimp, mysid shrimp).

Some favor pelletized meals, which they pluck from the aquarium backside. (Remember: there may be a lot of variation in what these fishes will eat—one S. fasciatus could eat something you place within the tank, whereas one other could ignore any launched meals.)

Feeding Frequency

In case your tank has loads of algae, then you may get away with feeding lawnmower blennies a number of instances per week. Within the wild, they frequently rasp at exhausting substrates all through the day.

Due to this fact, if algae are in short supply in your tank, you’ll have to add meals a number of instances a day.

In the event that they refuse launched meals, you have to have a big sufficient tank and a wholesome sufficient algal crop to maintain them.

This implies a tank that’s not less than 55 gallons or extra for one of many bigger members of the genus.

When you think about that this fish could take over 3,000 bites a day, eradicating a mean of two.19 milligrams of dry-weight epilithic (rising on rocks) algae, it shouldn’t be shocking that they’ll rapidly decimate a crop of filamentous algae.

For instance, I’ve seen a few S. fasciatus decimate a big filamentous algae crop from a moderate-sized tank in a matter of weeks.

The reef aquarist with an algal plague could also be inspired by this truth, however, it may possibly spell doom in your Emblemaria if it refuses to just accept different meals.

Sadly, there is no such thing as an assurance that your salariine blenny will eat different meals, however as indicated above, many wills.


The very best rule of thumb is to maintain just one Emblemaria sp. per tank.

They may undoubtedly combat with members of their very own type and with different species within the genus.

In case your tank is bigger, you possibly can home in on a pair of conspecifics.

Chances are you’ll even get away with conserving a number of congeners in the identical tank if the aquarium may be very giant (e.g., 180 gallons or extra).

Whereas disputes could happen alongside territory boundaries in a bigger aquarium, if there may be sufficient area, they’ll and can keep away from each other and these disputes are not going to change into lethal.

To the very best of my information, there aren’t any identified sexual dimorphisms or variations in colors between the sexes, so deciding on a heterosexual pair is extra a matter of luck than ability.

It could be that males get bigger than females, however extra analysis is required to verify this.

Attacking Different Species

Emblemaria spp. sometimes assault different fish species. For instance, I’ve had them chew seahorses and pipefishes. I’ve additionally had them chew our bodies and fins of herbivores (e.g., tangs, rabbitfishes) and omnivores (e.g., trunkfishes).

You may not really see a lawnmower blenny nipping at its tankmates, however, you may even see telltale indicators of its assaults—after they nip an adversary, they typically depart marks on the physique and fins. Their assaults can also lead to torn fins.

The lawnmower blennies will choose on different blennies. If they’re within the tank first and/or are bigger than a blenny tankmate, they may usually chase and nip it till the opposite blenny leaps from the tank, hides incessantly within the reef, or hangs within the aquarium corners. Smaller blennies (e.g., Ecsenius spp.) are particularly weak to Emblemaria assault.

If the tank is giant sufficient, and if the blenny is nicely fed, it isn’t unusual for the Emblemaria spp. to disregard fish tank mates that aren’t associated or comparable in form and habits (the latter would come with elongated bottom-dwellers, like clinid blennies, tube blennies, triplefins, and a few gobies).

Nipping at Decorative Invertebrates

Emblemaria spp. are normally not harmful to corals or tridacnid clams, however, an occasional particular person could nip at these decorative invertebrates (they’re much less prone to exhibit these habits than a number of the different blennioides).

When feeding, they could knock snails off the aquarium glass onto their backs, exposing them to assault by crustaceans and malacophilous (snail-eating) fishes.

Sure bigger Emblemaria spp. have additionally been identified to assault and eat extra gracile shrimps (e.g., anemone shrimps) and to nip the information off serpent star arms, however, these are uncommon occasions that ought to not dissuade the reefkeeper from using them to assist management hair algae.

The blennies have been identified to bail out of an open aquarium. Due to this fact, you have to make use of some kind of canopy to maintain them within the tank. They may even leap into overflow bins.

That ends our examination of the salariine blennies. Not solely are these fishes, attention-grabbing residents, within the aquarium, however, they’re additionally nice utility fishes that earn their hold!

They’re voracious herbivores that may assist in decimate and manage pestilent flora within the dwelling aquarium.

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