Red-lipped Blenny

Family: Blenniidae Picture of a Red-lipped Blenny during the day. Ophioblennius atlanticus Photos: Courtesy John Rice Picture of a Red-lipped Blenny at night.
Coloration at night
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We also have a blenny we were told was a red headed blenny. It doesn't have any red in it. It changes color and can go almost white, but it is mostly black,... (more)  Sherry

   The Red-lipped blenny is known for its excellent habit of helping to keep reef aquariums free of problem algae. They have a hardy appetite and are easy to maintain!

   They can be territorial, and the Red-lipped Blenny may chase others of its own size or less, but this is not always the case.

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

Geographic Distribution
Ophioblennius atlanticus
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Blenniidae
  • Genus: Ophioblennius
  • Species: atlanticus
Horseface Blenny, Ophioblennius atlanticus
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Little blenny bites giant stingray.

This video is a perfect example of the fierce nature the Horseface Blenny has when it comes to guarding their home! This diver caught the blenny biting the tail of the stingray! House in a tank that is at least 75 gallons with no other algae eaters. Other fish should be at least twice their size and not bottom dwellers. They are great in aggressive tanks where they can hold their own against large dottybacks and triggerfish.

Horseface Blenny, Ophioblennius atlanticus
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Close up of Horseface Blenny

This is a great video showing the "horsey" face with the red outer edges of the pectoral fins. They are a darker fish and become mottled at night or when they are afraid. The lighter version is often confused with their 4.7" sister blenny which is actually the TRUE Redlip Blenny, that inhabits the same areas in the Western Atlantic as the Horseface Blenny. The Horseface Blenny grows to 7.5" and it will attack fish over 2ce their size. These blennies have long sharp fangs that will inflict a wound on any fish that wanders close to their territory, as well as a hand passing by! Small specimens are not as aggressive as larger adults.

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Maintenance difficulty:    The Red-lipped Blenny is easy to keep. The Red-lipped blenny will eat almost everything and in a well established aquarium will seldom need to be fed.

Maintenance/Foods:    Blennies are omnivores. They do well on a diet which includes all kinds of algae and frozen marine foods. In a well established aquarium or a mini-reef they will usually find plenty to eat with minimal supplemental feeding.

Habitat: Natural geographic location:    Red-lipped Blenny are found in the Eastern Atlantic: Azores and Madeira; Canary, Ascension, St. Helena, Cape Verde, San Tomé and Annobon Islands; St Paul's Rocks; and along the coast of west Africa from Senegal to Angola. Western Atlantic: Trindade Island (Brazil). Bermuda, North Carolina to Florida (USA), Bahamas, Caribbean, including Antilles to Brazil. Rare in northern Gulf of Mexico. They are found at depths of 10 to 20 meters (33 - 60 ft).

Social Behaviors: Can be territorial with fish less than twice its own size.

Sex: Sexual differences:    The male is usually larger. It is thought that the male has an extra black edge on the ventral and tail fins.

Breeding/Reproduction:    We have found no information at this time (10/01/99).

Light: Recommended light levels:    No special requirements.

Temperature:    No special requirements. Normal temperatures for marine fish is between 74 and 79 degrees fahrenheit.

Length/Diameter of fish:    Red-lipped Blenny adults can grow to 12.0 cm (4.7 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:    A minimum 25 gallon aquarium is recommended.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong    No special requirements.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom Usually spends most of its' time on rockwork or live rock near the bottom.

Availability:    This fish is readily available and is inexpensive.

Author: David Brough. CFS.
Lastest Animal Stories on Red-lipped Blenny

Sherry - 2010-05-31
We also have a blenny we were told was a red headed blenny. It doesn't have any red in it. It changes color and can go almost white, but it is mostly black, and gets white lines across it's face, and white in its eyes, along with a line of white dots along its bottom fin. It is so cool, we're hoping someone can tell us what kind of blenny it is?

Diana Hancock - 2009-11-10
I have this fish (the one in the excellent pictures from John Rice)and have been searching all day to try to identify it. (It was sold to me incorrectly as a "red finned blenny.") But this fish is NOT a redlipped or "horseface" blenny. I still don't know what it is for sure, but the face shape is quite different from the Ophioblennius atlanticus and the "night time" markings of this fish are much more elaborite than that of a horseface. (Also, it's dorsal fin is higher than a red lipped blenny and it lacks the red lips which are it's namesake feature) IF anyone knows for sure what the fish in this picture really is, I would love to know :) THANK YOU!

some fish lover! - 2009-10-24
I have a red lipped blenny and he is so cute! He always comes to the tank when I go near and stays there until I feed him! I love mine so you should love yours to if you have and if you dont have one get one!