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Fang Blenny Care Sheet

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.

fang blenny care sheet

This care sheet covers a variety of fang blennies, including:

  • Striped blenny
  • Komohara blenny
  • Carnary blenny
  • Smith’s blenny
  • Harptail blenny
  • Fortail blenny



Scientific name: Melacanthus grammistes, Melacanthus kamoharai, Melacanthus oualanensis, Melacanthus smithii, Melacanthus mossambicus, Melacanthus atrodorsalis                                                                                                                                                              

These slender-bodied fish come with a big personality. In nature, fang blennies are found in the tropical Indo-Pacific, although most of these species are now being captive-bred. Fang blennies are close relatives of gobies. They are intelligent, entertaining and rather territorial fish. Be careful when handling your fang blenny, as they have a venomous bite that they may use to defend themselves against a predator.


Typical appearance and behavior 

  • Most fang blennies are semi-aggressive and can be territorial
  • They need plenty of hiding places, as they like to hide in holes and caves within live rock to feel safe
  • Many can only swim a short distance at a time, so it looks like they're hopping, not swimming
  • Usually inhabit the bottom of the tank



Care Difficulty Intermediate
Average Life Span Up to 5 years with proper care, depending on species
Average Adult Size Up to 5 inches long, depending on species
Diet Omnivore
Minimum Habitat Size 29+ gallons, depending on species
Water Temperature 74-80°F
Specific gravity 1.020-1.025



Habitat size

Keep fang blennies in an appropriate size aquarium for the species selected. A minimum of 29 gallons is recommended for a small or juvenile fang blenny, however, water conditions can change rapidly in smaller water volumes. A larger aquarium is recommended for larger species.  


Building your habitat

  • Water health - Provide proper filtration to ensure optimal water quality to help maintain health. Slow to moderate water circulation, based on the species, should be provided to mimic water currents found in the fang blenny's natural habitat. Stable water quality (pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite) and water temperature are critical to the health of aquatic life. If you are unsure of your water quality, bring a sample to Petco for free testing. The addition of a protein skimmer can aid with maintaining great water quality and high dissolved oxygen levels. The specific gravity should remain stable. Do not allow specific gravity to fluctuate more than +/-0.001 in a 24-hour period.
  • Temperature - An aquatic heater should be used to stabilize water temperature, ensuring it does not fluctuate more than +/-2 degrees in a 24-hour period.
  • Décor - Provide rock and décor for hiding places and plenty of room for movement
  • Live rock - Can provide a natural food source for fang blennies and hiding places while enhancing biological filtration



A well-balanced fang blenny diet consists of:

  • Varied diet, including mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, flakes, pellets, and freeze-dried and frozen food
  • A varied diet will help ensure proper nutritional balance


Things to remember when feeding your fang blenny

  • Depending on the species and their size, feed small amounts two to three times daily, no more than fish can eat in 1 to 2 minutes
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding



Fang blenny care

  • Avoid overcrowded conditions as this is a major cause of stress and disease
  • Maintaining great water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration is important to help keep your fang blenny healthy
    • Daily: Check filter, water temperature and other equipment
    • Weekly: Test water quality at least once a week
    • Weekly to monthly: Change 10 to 25% of the total volume of water every two to four weeks or as needed. Change filter media monthly



Where to buy fang blennies

Various fang blennies are available for purchase at Petco online and in store. If visiting your local Pet Care Center location, please call ahead to check availability. 






Habitat mates

Compatible with:

Unless kept in a breeding pair, keep only one blenny per aquarium




Signs of a healthy fish

  • Clear eyes
  • Healthy appetite
  • Bright, even coloring
  • Fins completely intact and undamaged
  • Free of parasites or disease


Red flags(If you notice any of these signs, contact your local aquatic specialist or your veterinarian.)

  • Loss of color or appetite
  • Spots or fungus on body or mouth
  • Listlessness
  • Labored breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Erratic swimming
  • Frayed fins


Common health issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health IssueFin rot Symptoms or CausesFrayed or disintegrating fins; the base of the fins usually reddens. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueMarine ich Symptoms or CausesCysts on fins, gills and skin; rapid breathing, excess skin mucus or pale skin. Fish rubs against hard objects or swims erratically. Suggested ActionQuarantine fish immediately and use a commercial parasite remedy. Complete a water change, freshwater dips can help dislodge the parasites; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueBacterial infections Symptoms or CausesCloudy eyes, open sores and/or reddening of the skin. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; use a commercial antibacterial remedy as directed, consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueViral infection (lymphocystis) Symptoms or CausesWhite nodule growths on fins or body. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.


Additional care sheets


Notes and resources

Ask a Pet Care Center associate about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as atypical mycobacterium and salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for aquatic life and should consider not having aquatic life as a pet.

Go to and for more information about aquatic life and disease.


The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.