The bandit blenny is a subtropical fish found in the Western Indian Ocean from Bazaruto in Mozambique to Port Alfred in South Africa. Despite its small range, it is considered locally abundant. However, with a maximum length of just six centimetres, it remains difficult to spot.
Like most blennies, the bandit blenny has an elongated body and a wedge-like dorsal fin that runs along the length of its spine. It can be identified by the dark spot on its gill opening, and by its distinctive black and white vertical stripes. Its common name is derived from its convict-like appearance, and it is known to favour shallow, muddy areas with plenty of weed. Bandit blennies form pairs during breeding season and lay eggs, which they attach to the substrate using adhesive filaments.
Found throughout the Indian Ocean from Mozambique to India, the maned blenny has been reported as far east as China and Japan. It favours very shallow water, and is found predominantly in tidal rock pools or on areas of shallow reef. The maned blenny is demersal, which
means that it occupies the water column immediately above the seafloor. It reaches a maximum length of 10 centimetres, and has a pale body covered with small dark spots. It also has five to six dusky vertical bands, and a series of narrow, darker bands on its tail fin. Its dorsal fin runs from head to tail, giving the blenny its maned appearance. This species feeds on seaweed and small crustaceans, and produces eggs which ultimately hatch into plankton-like larvae.
The ringneck blenny is an incredibly widespread species found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and in the Western Indian Ocean. In the Indian Ocean, it is found exclusively between the South African provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the
Western Cape. The fact that it is both abundant and widespread contributes to its classification as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. The ringneck blenny prefers water shallower than six metres, but has been reported at depths of up to 25 metres. It thrives on both rocky and coral reefs, and lives on or near the seafloor. The ringneck blenny reaches a maximum length of around 13 centimetres, and has an elongated body marked by dusky stripes on the top half, and dark spots on the lower half.
Horned rockskippers are native to the Western Indian Ocean including Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands. They are found as far east as India, and are most commonly associated with coral reefs between 18 and 37 metres deep.
Horned rockskippers are demersal, and spend their entire lives on or near the seafloor. They are oviparous, which means that they lay eggs. The eggs are adhesive and stick to the substrate, an adaptation that prevents them from being washed away. Horned rockskippers have a maximum length of 7.5 centimetres, and their elongated bodies are marked with vertical dark bands and pale spots outlined in black or dark brown. They are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
The rippled rockskipper has several common names, including smoothlipped blenny, coral blenny and toothless blenny. It is found throughout the Indo-West Pacific from South Africa to southern Japan, and it reaches a maximum length
of 16 centimetres. Rippled rockskippers are grey in colour, with an elongated dorsal fin and distinct vertical bands. Males are darker than females, and both sexes live in intertidal rock pools with a depth of no more than five metres. To avoid predation, rippled rockskippers inhabit rocky nooks and crannies whenever they aren’t feeding; but if they are chased, adult rockskippers are capable of jumping from one rock pool to another. They can breathe air, and may even spend periods of time out of water in damp rocky or weedy areas.
The streaky rockskipper occurs throughout the Indo-West Pacific, from southern Africa to Palau, Taiwan, Fiji and Australia. There are reports of the species from the southeast Atlantic and the south Pacific as well. Streaky rockskippers favour
intertidal pools with a maximum depth of around three metres, and are often found in mangrove areas. They occasionally co-exist with rippled rockskippers, and the largest streaky rockskipper on record measures 10.9 centimetres in length. Males have elongated grey bodies with up to six dusky bands, while the bands on female rockskippers are usually broken up into vertical rows of spots. Streaky rockskippers are euryhaline, which means that they can tolerate a wide range of different salinity levels.
Other Blennies on our reef
Golden Blenny – Ecsenius midas
Mimic Blenny – Plagiotremus tapeinosoma