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Reproduction

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Blennies attract mates near the holes or crevices in which spawning occurs. The females will often initiate courtship, some assuming new coloration for spawning. When the female enters the area the male engages in courtship behavior that can include changing into spawning colors, bobbing the head up and down at the mouth of the cave, and leading the female to the nest by swimming with an undulating motion. One the male may mate with several females. Males of some species apparently move toward an olfactory cue released by other males during spawning.

Mating System: polygynous

It is probable that blennies spawn throughout the year, probably during the day. Some groups only spawn during warmer times of the year, and one species spawns every three to four days. Spawning usually occurs in the male’s territory in a cave, crevice, or other shelter. The male entices the female into the cave with various courtship behaviors (see Reproduction: Mating Systems), at which point she begins to lay eggs on the surfaces of the shelter. Spawning may take only a few minutes, or may last more than a day; eggs may be deposited all at once, or on several trips into the nest. Depending on the size of the cave, the male may enter with the female, or may make intermittent trips into the hole to fertilize the eggs. The male is generally active during spawning, deterring predators, and afterwards guarding the eggs until hatching. Females may occasionally guard the nest as well. One male may mate with several females, brooding all the eggs in the same nest.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (External ); oviparous

Blennies deposit their eggs in clumps on the hidden surfaces of crevices or holes. The male, and sometimes the female, guards the eggs until they hatch, at which point the larvae are left to fend for themselves. During hatching some males energetically fan the eggs.

Parental Investment: male parental care ; female parental care

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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Untitled

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The first fossil records of blenniids date from the upper Tertiary and upper Miocene periods.

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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Behavior

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Other than descriptions of visual and olfactory communication during mating (see Reproduction: Mating Systems), no specific information was found concerning communication methods used by this group.

Communication Channels: visual ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: mimicry

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; chemical

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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Conservation Status

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Currently, there is no known conservation threat to any member of this family.

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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Life Cycle

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Blennies generally pass through a pelagic, postlarval stage after a short planktonic stage. The young pelagic fishes look different enough from their adult form that they were classified at one time as a separate subfamily. Transformation into the adult form occurs at some time after the postlarvae enter a littoral habitat.

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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Comprehensive Description

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The family Blenniidae is the largest family in its suborder, consisting of six tribes with 53 genera and 345 species. A slender, elongate body and cryptic coloring assist many blennies in their secretive lifestyle in crevices and holes on the bottom of inshore waters. Blennies are known for their distinctive teeth, which are close-set in a single row on each jaw, and some blennies have a huge canine on each lower jaw, hence the descriptors “comb-toothed” and “saber-toothed." Blennies possess interesting traits ranging from mimicry and hopping over terrestrial rocks to adopting separate colors for courtship. Most blennies feed on algae and small invertebrates, but some attack other fish to steal bites of fin, scales, or skin.

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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Benefits

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No specific information was found concerning any negative impacts to humans.

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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Benefits

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Blenniids are not food fishes, but the genera Ecsenius, Salarias, and Meiacanthus are gathered for aquarium use.

Positive Impacts: pet trade

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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R. Jamil Jonna, Animal Diversity Web
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Associations

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Blennies are largely herbivorous and as such play an important role in grazing reef algae, keeping it from smothering corals. Blennies are a predominant group in intertidal and inshore zones and are specialized to occupy holes and crevices.

Ecosystem Impact: parasite

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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Trophic Strategy

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Primarily bottom-dwellers, blennies tend to feed on other benthic organisms, both algae and invertebrates. Some are planktivores, some carnivores; others scrape algae off coral and rocks and in the process may be feeding on small organisms that live in association with the algae. Some blennies nip pieces of skin, scales, or fins from larger fish.

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats non-insect arthropods); herbivore ; omnivore ; planktivore

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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Distribution

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Blennies can be found in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans, in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters throughout the world.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Native ); neotropical (Native ); australian (Native ); oceanic islands (Native ); arctic ocean (Native ); indian ocean (Native ); atlantic ocean (Native ); pacific ocean (Native ); mediterranean sea (Native )

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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Habitat

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While blennies are primarily marine fishes, some members of the family occur in estuaries or in fresh water, for example, in lakes in Italy. They inhabit shallow, inshore, often intertidal, waters. Blennies are generally benthic, occupying grass beds, tide pools, or areas near rocks, shells, or corals. The saber-toothed blennies, Aspidontus and Meiacanthus, are free swimming.

Habitat Regions: saltwater or marine ; freshwater

Aquatic Biomes: benthic ; reef ; lakes and ponds; coastal ; brackish water

Other Habitat Features: estuarine ; intertidal or littoral

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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Life Expectancy

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There was no information found regarding the lifespan of blenniids.

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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Morphology

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Blennies have scaleless, elongated bodies, and comb-like, slender, close-set teeth, which can be either fixed or movable. A pair of giant canines give the saber-toothed blennies their name, and in the poison-fanged blennies (Meiacanthus) these teeth are hollow and contain an injectable toxin. In blennies the palatines are toothless, and the mouth not protractile. The head is often blunt and typically adorned with tentacles or cirri. Blennies are usually small, but a few can reach 55 cm. The dorsal fin has more rays than spines, and the anal fin has two spines. Blennies exhibit a wide variety of uniform colors as well as spots, stripes, or bands, and some species exhibit two or three color patterns. Cryptic coloring is widespread. (Click here to see a fish diagram).

Sexual dimorphism is common to many of the blennies. In general males are larger than females and in some species have a larger head. The cirri on the head can take distinct forms in males and females, as can the anal spines. Males of some species have fleshy swellings near the dorsal or anal fins that become larger during spawning season. Many blennies assume spawning colors, most frequently the male, but sometimes the female as well. Males tend to develop brighter coloration during spawning, especially under the jaw, and in one species males take on a third color pattern while egg-tending.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry ; poisonous ; venomous

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful; sexes shaped differently; ornamentation

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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Associations

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Most blennies depend on a secretive lifestyle to survive, having coloration that blends in with their surroundings and hiding on the bottom in shallow waters. Some can escape predators by hopping over rocks from pool to pool. Meiacanthus can inject venom from the base of a groove in its large canine teeth. Any predator that gulps Meiacanthus apparently receives a toxic bite on the inside of its mouth and Meiacanthus is able to swim away freely. Several genera of blennies (Ecsenius, Plagiotremus — also known as Runula) gain protection from mimicking the coloration of Meiacanthus. Other blenniids engage in mimicry as well; one saber-toothed blenny, Aspidontus taeniatus, mimics the cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus in color and behavior. The blenny is able to approach and take a nip out of large fish that are accustomed to being cleaned by the nearly identical-looking wrasse.

Anti-predator Adaptations: mimic; cryptic

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Jonna, R. 2003. "Blenniidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Blenniidae.html
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Comprehensive Description

provided by CoralReefFish

The true blennies are the unscaled and blunt-nosed members of the blenniodei, often called combtooth blennies because of their herbivorous dentation. Most of the regional blenniids are not reef-associated but typically occupy rocky shorelines, usually in the more temperate parts of the region. The exception is the large redlip blenny, Ophioblennius atlanticus macclurei, which is very common on Caribbean coral reefs.

Larval true blennies can be recognized by their blunted snout, long and continuous dorsal and anal fins with flexible spines, a somewhat short and narrow caudal peduncle, long strand-like pelvic fins (usually straight, not curled up over the body), and relatively heavy markings (primarily a row of melanophores along the anal fin base, often along with dense markings on the pectoral fins and the top of the head). Many larvae have a prominent preopercular spine that disappears at transition, although smaller spines usually remain on the preopercle. Larval blennioids have large round eyes during their early life history, in contrast to larval scarids, labrids, and gobies in which the eye is often small or narrowed.

Among the closely related families, blenniids can be separated from the labrisomids, tripterygiids and chaenopsids (other than the easily recognized Chaenopsis spp.) by the blunt snout and having fewer dorsal fin spines than rays (except in Hypsoblennius invemar), and from dactyloscopids by having a blunt snout and straight, not curled, pelvic fins.

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Combtooth blenny

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Combtooth blennies are blenniiformids; percomorph marine fish of the family Blenniidae, part of the order Blenniiformes. They are the largest family of blennies with around 400 known species. Combtooth blennies are found in tropical and subtropical waters in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans; some species are also found in brackish and even freshwater environments.

Description

The body plan of the combtooth blennies is archetypal to all other blennioids; their blunt heads and eyes are large, with large continuous dorsal fins (which may have three to 17 spines). Their bodies are compressed, elongated, and scaleless; their small, slender pelvic fins (which are absent in only two species) are situated before their enlarged pectoral fins, and their tail fins are rounded. As their name would suggest, combtooth blennies are noted for the comb-like teeth lining their jaws.

By far the largest species is the eel-like hairtail blenny at 53 cm in length; most other members of the family are much smaller. Combtooth blennies are active and often highly colourful, making them popular in the aquarium hobby.

Habitat and behaviour

"
Blue-lined sabertooth blenny Plagiotremus rhinorhynchos in a rock hole

Generally benthic fish, combtooth blennies spend much of their time on or near the bottom. They may inhabit the rocky crevices of reefs, burrows in sandy or muddy substrates, or even empty shells. Generally found in shallow waters, some combtooth blennies are capable of leaving the water for short periods during low tide, aided by their large pectoral fins which act as "feet". Small benthic crustaceans, mollusks, and other sessile invertebrates are the primary food items for most species; others eat algae or plankton.

One exceptional group of combtooth blennies deserves special mention: the so-called sabre-toothed blennies of the genera Aspidontus, Meiacanthus, Petroscirtes, Plagiotremus, and Xiphasia. These blennies have fang-like teeth with venom glands at their bases. Species of the genera Aspidontus and Plagiotremus (such as the false cleanerfish) are noted for their cunning mimicry of cleaner wrasses: by imitating the latter's colour, form, and behaviour, the blennies are able to trick other fish (or even divers) into letting down their guard, long enough for the blennies to nip a quick mouthful of skin or scale.

Some combtooth blennies form small groups, while others are solitary and territorial. They may be either diurnal or nocturnal, depending on the species. Females lay eggs in shells or under rock ledges; males guard the nest of eggs until hatching. In some species, the eggs may remain in the oviduct of the female until hatched. The fry of some species undergo an 'ophioblennius' stage, wherein the fish are pelagic (i.e., inhabiting the midwater) and have greatly enlarged pectoral fins and hooked teeth.

Classification

"
Toxic Meiacanthus grammistes imitates the coloration of wrasses

This family is currently divided into two subfamilies and approximately 58 genera and 397 species.[1]

The following genera are classified within the family Blenniidae:[2][3]

Timeline

See also

References

  1. ^ J. S. Nelson; T. C. Grande; M. V. H. Wilson (2016). Fishes of the World (5th ed.). Wiley. p. 348. ISBN 978-1-118-34233-6.
  2. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2013). "Blenniidae" in FishBase. February 2013 version.
  3. ^ Smith-Vaniz, W.F. & Rose, J.M. (2012): Adelotremus leptus, a new genus and species of sabertooth blenny from the Red Sea (Teleostei: Blenniidae: Nemophini). Zootaxa,3249: 39–46.
"
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Combtooth blenny: Brief Summary

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Combtooth blennies are blenniiformids; percomorph marine fish of the family Blenniidae, part of the order Blenniiformes. They are the largest family of blennies with around 400 known species. Combtooth blennies are found in tropical and subtropical waters in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans; some species are also found in brackish and even freshwater environments.

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Description

provided by World Register of Marine Species
Chiefly tropical and subtropical marine; rare in fresh- and brackish water. Distribution: Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Scaleless or scales modified. Usually blunt head. Pelvic fins present in all but 2 species. Pelvic fin before pectorals; with 1 inconspicuous spine and 2-4 segmented rays. No teeth in palatines; vomerine teeth present. Teeth in jaws comblike, fixed or movable (canine teeth occasionally present). Spines in dorsal fin 3-17, flexible; 9-119 segmented soft rays. Pectoral rays 10-18, unbranched. Branched caudal fin rays, except in 1 species. Two spines in anal fin. All but 1 genus with basisphenoid. Swim bladder usually absent in adults. Usually 28-44 vertebrae, to 135 in Xiphasia. About 54 cm maximum length; most smaller than 15 cm. Capable mimetic behavior.
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MASDEA (1997).
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