Downy Blenny

Downy Blenny, Gobioclinus kalisherae

The Downy Blenny, Gobioclinus kalisherae, whose common Spanish name is trambollo velloso, is a species in the Labrisomid Blenny or Labrisomidae Family, known collectively as trambollos in Mexico. This fish has recently been reclassified from Labrisomus kalisherae. Globally, there are seven species in the genus Gobioclinus, of which five are found in Mexican waters of the Atlantic.

The Downy Blennies have shortened elongated robust bodies with a uniform depth throughout that tapers gradually at the rear into the tail. They are tan to reddish-brown in color with six or seven vertical dark brown bars on their body that extend from the dorsal fin to the anal fin. Their anal, dorsal, pectoral, and pelvic fins have white spots. Their caudal, pectoral, and pelvic fins have five to seven dark bars. Juveniles have a dark blotch on their gill cover and their anal and dorsal fins are heavily spotted. Their head is broad with a blunt snout, large eyes, a branched cirrus over each eye, and several heavily branched cirri on each side of the nape. Their mouth is large, opens at the front, and is slightly oblique; it is equipped with patches of small teeth behind an outer row of large teeth on the upper jaw and teeth on the side of the roof of the mouth. Their anal fin has two spines and 19 rays; their caudal fin is square; and their dorsal fin has 18 to 20 spines, with the first spine being the longest, and 10 to 12 rays; and their short pelvic fins are inserted before the pectoral fins. They have 11 gill rakers and are covered with small smooth scales.

The Downy Blennies are a shallow water coastal species found within rocky shores and coarse rubble covered with algae, seagrass beds, and in sheltered lagoons at depths up to 50 feet. They are found in holes and crevices or among coral formations. They reach a maximum length of 8.3 cm (3.3 inches). They are diurnal highly territorial predators that feed mostly on benthic crustaceans including small crabs. Reproduction is oviparous with females depositing eggs in protected areas. Very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Downy Blennies are found in the southern portions of the Gulf of Mexico and around the Yucatán Peninsula.

The Downy Blenny can be easily confused with a series of other Labrisomid Blennies including the Hairy Blenny, Labrisomus nuchipinnis, the Longfin Blenny, Gobioclinus haitiensis, the Mimic Blenny, Gobioclinus guppyi, the Palehead Blenny, Gobioclinus gobio, the Puffcheek Blenny, Gobioclinus bucciferus, and the Whitecheek Blenny, Labrisomus albigenys, all of which have similar body shapes, colorations, and barring patterns. Correct fish identification requires consultation with someone having knowledge of blennies in the area or about the differences in the blennies of the Gobioclinus Genus and the Labrisomus Genus.

 Although plentiful, the Downy Blennies are of limited interest to most due to their size, but they are sold on a very limited basis by the aquarium trade.

Downy Blenny, Gobioclinus kalisherae. Fish caught off the Anglin’s Pier, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida, March 2015. Length: 8.1 cm (3.2 inches). Catch, photo, and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.