News / Species Spotlight / Green Canary Blenny (Meiacanthus tongaensis) (08/25/16)

Green Canary Blenny (Meiacanthus tongaensis)

Green Canary Blenny (Meiacanthus tongaensis)

When we think of animals with venomous fangs, we tend to envision snakes and spiders, not fish. Venom in the fish world is almost always associated with fin spines, like those found in scorpionfishes, rabbitfishes and certain catfishes. But there is one small group of coral reef fishes, commonly available in the aquarium trade, that has uniquely evolved a set of venom-laced fangs at the rear of its mouththe fangblennies of the genus Meiacanthus.

As a blenny, you might expect Meiacanthus to spend their days bouncing around on rocks and rasping away at algae, but this couldnt be further from the truth. Meiacanthus belongs to a distinct offshoot of the blenny family that has taken to feeding heavily on invertebrates (worms, shrimps, etc) while actively swimming just above the substrate. Captive specimens are thus easily cared for with a diet of frozen foods, and most will eventually learn to accept dry foods.

The Green Canary Blenny (M. tongaensis) is a relatively recent introduction into the aquarium trade, and is only known to occur in the small island nation of Tonga, located in the South Pacific near Fiji. Unlike the true Canary Blenny (found just next door in Fiji). This species has a slight chartreuse cast to its body and a distinctive black stripe in the dorsal fin. This is a peaceful, coral-safe species that is ideal for smaller reef aquariums, and, despite its limited distribution in the wild (which usually would denote an expensive price tag), this charming little fish is exceptionally affordable.