Stuff In My Tank – Flametail Blenny

The Flametail Blenny (aka: Sea Piglet) from Addictive Aquatics (LA).

The Flametail Blenny (aka: My Sea Piglet) from Addictive Aquatics (LA).

Livestock Type – Blenny, or Atrosalarias sp.

Common Name – Flametail blenny.  Often confused with the Bicolor Blenny but is a separate species.

Care Level – The most high-maintenance fish I’ve ever known, but for reasons beyond our control.  These days, Smithers is a fat and happy goober who lives in a big barnacle and demands nothing but food and wuv.

Environmental Impact – Medium.  This species has not been aquacultured on a commercial scale.  It is almost certain that all flametail blennies will be live-caught from Indo-Pacific reefs, but are not listed as a protected species under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Should I Put It In My Tank? – The single greatest concern for blennies is compatibility with other fish.  The flametail blenny is a reef-safe fish that requires minimal swimming room, but is territorial and will attack other fish with a similar body shape.  Aggression is most likely to occur with other blennies but might also occur with some gobies and dottybacks.

What Do I Need To Know? – Not much.  With luck, this is a plug-and-play fish (acclimate-and-dump?).  Some websites suggest that the flametail blenny is an algae grazer and will eat nothing but what grows on the live rocks in the tank.  I know from handfeeding my Sea Piglet during his six-month convalescence that this is a myth – they eat flake foods, as well as meaty frozen foods.  Come to think of it, I have never seen mine turn down food.  Ever.  Okay, so maybe overeating is a problem…

Does It Play Well With Others? – Yes, as long as body type is dissimilar. I have kept mine in a tank with a clown goby and there was no aggression.  Smithers is currently in a tank with a dottyback, and they poke at each other a bit but this appears to be a routine dominance display rather than aggression (Smithers is the dominant fish – go figure).  Rumor has it that a blenny with one body type, such as the flametail blenny, can cohabit a tank with a blenny of a different body type, such as a scooter blenny, but I have (intentionally) not tried this.

How Will This Species Piss Me Off? – As mentioned, Smithers is my most high-maintenance fish but this was because of a freak accident.  I probably have the only flametail blenny on the planet who got stuck in a rock for a month and needed to be nursed back to health for another six.  This has proved to be a bonding experience (yeah yeah, I know) as Smithers recognizes me and will pop out of his hole to greet me when he sees me coming over to the tank.   As long as you are aware of potential aggression issues, a flametail blenny is an excellent choice for any reef tank with community fish.

What Can I Expect To Spend? – The site I’ve linked to – Addictive Aquatics of LA – puts the flametail blenny at $18.  This is an excellent price, but don’t forget about shipping and handling.  Expect to pay up to $10 more if you purchase locally.

Where Can I Buy It? – The flametail blenny is one of the less popular blennies and is often overlooked in favor of blennies with more vivid coloration.  You will have the best luck ordering from an online distributor, although I have seen them pop up more frequently in stores (Smithers was an impulse buy when browsing in the LFS a year ago).

Any Health Hazards? – They can nip a bit, but it’s barely noticeable.

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~ by KBSpangler on September 20, 2009.

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