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Aspidontus taeniatus, False Cleanerfish. Scott W. Michael

Family: Blenniidae

Species in Genus Aspidontus:


Reference: A PocketExpert Guide to Reef Aquarium Fishes
Image credit: SWM
Text credit: SWM


There are three genera of fang blennies: Aspidontus, Plagiotremus, and Petroscirtes, and they are the “bad boys” of the blenny world. To varying degrees, they all feed on the mucus and scales of other fishes. A number of them mimic other piscine neighbors (e.g., cleaner wrasses or other blennies), which enables them to get closer to potential victims. They are not sought after community fishes because of their undesirable feeding mode.

The members of Petroscirtes depend less on fish scales and mucus (they feed more on filamentous algae, diatoms, and small crustaceans). These blennies have well-developed fangs that are used more for self-defense than for feeding. The members of Plagiotremus depend on mucus and scales the most. However, if kept on their own, they will accept mysid and brine shrimp and some frozen preparations. They will have to be fed often (two or three times a day).

While these species in these three genera will not harm corals, the Aspidontus species will eat fanworm feeding tentacles. Many of these fishes fight with conspecifics, so keep only one per tank.