Fishgod Blenny

Fishgod Blenny, Malacoctenus ebisui

The Fishgod Blenny, Malacoctenus ebisui, whose common Spanish name is trambollo dorado, is a species in the Labrisomid Blenny or Labrisomidae Family, known collectively as trambollos in Mexico. Globally, there are eighteen species in the genus Malacoctenus, fourteen of which are found in Mexican waters, six in the Atlantic and eight in the Pacific.

The Fishgod Blennies have shortened elongated bodies with a uniform depth throughout that tapers gradually at the rear into the tail. The sexes have different colorations. Males are brown to reddish-brown dorsally with two or three large black patches toward the rear and have a bluish-green belly and tiny white spots on their head. Females are brownish dorsally and yellowish ventrally with several diffuse brown bars across their sides and are covered with numerous white spots. Their head is slender with a pointed snout, protruding eyes, a branched cirrus over each eye, and a pair of heavily branched cirri on the nape. Their mouth is small, opens at the front, and is equipped with one row of large teeth on the upper jaw. Their anal fin has two spines and 18 to 21 rays; their caudal fin is square; and their dorsal fin has 19 to 21 spines (the first being very short) and 10 to 12 rays with a slight notch in between. They have 11 to 13 gill rakers. They are covered with scales.

The Fishgod Blennies are a small shallow water coastal species found in intertidal shallows, bays, and estuaries in rocky areas at depths up to 70 feet. They reach a maximum length of 6.5 cm (2.6 inches). They are diurnal highly territorial predators that feed 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 Fishgod Blennies are found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southwest coast of Baja and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala; they are absent from the Sea of Cortez, however the collection documented below is technically within the Sea of Cortez.

The Fishgod Blenny can be confused with the Glossy Blenny, Malacoctenus zonifer (throat and belly covered with dark spots) and the Throatspotted Blenny, Malacoctenus tetranemus (many dark spots on throat).

The Fishgod Blennies are too small to be of interest to most and are normally a “catch-and-release”.

Fishgod Blenny, Malacoctenus ebisui, male. Fish collected from the El Tule coastal reef, Km 17, Baja California Sur, January 2007. Length: 2.5 cm (1.0 inch). Fish identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.