[Ocean Oasis Field Guide] Satellite image of the Baja California peninsula and Gulf of California See Spanish version

Coralliozetus sp.
Tube blennies, Trambollitos

Family: CHAENOPSIDAE (Tube Blennies)


The tube blennies are small, slender fish with no scales. They exhibit marked sexual dimorphism. Males are usually bright colored, and very often they have better-developed supraorbital cirri (small, flexible, fleshy protuberances), longer jaws, and higher dorsal fins than the females. Depending on the species they are between 2.5 and 4 cm long.

Range and Habitat

The family is confined to the tropical and subtropical Americas. Tube blennies can be found in the Gulf of California (and further south depending on the species), usually in shallow waters about 1-3 m. deep, associated with rubble or sandy bottoms.

Natural History

Tube blennies seek permanent shelter in the unoccupied shells of barnacles and mollusks. They frequently retreat to their burrows in the hollow barnacles, poking their heads out of the cavities and showing the long cirri. Because of this behavior they are a favorite subject of underwater photographers.

Male tube blennies display a spectacular behavior to attract females, with dramatic moves in erecting the dorsal fin forward and changes in body coloration. The male guards the eggs until they hatch. Tube blennies feed mainly on zooplankton and also on the cirri of barnacles.

Text by Patricia Beller

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