News / Species Spotlight / Species Spotlight - Eyebrow Barnacle Blenny (Ekemblemaria myersi) (12/29/16)

Species Spotlight - Eyebrow Barnacle Blenny (Ekemblemaria myersi)

Species Spotlight - Eyebrow Barnacle Blenny (Ekemblemaria myersi)
The Barnacle Blenny (Acanthemblemaria hancocki) has become one of the most popular nano fishes in recent years, adored for its comical appearance and slapdash manner of chasing after food. A more seldom seen relative of this fish is the Eyebrow Barnacle Blenny (AKA the Reefsand Blenny), which boasts a different appearance but has much the same behaviors and care requirements.

Ekemblemaria myersi is one of just three species in its genus and can be found in shallow reef habitats from the tip of Baja California to Ecuador in the Eastern Pacific. On the otherside of the Isthmus of Panama occurs its close relative, the Moth Blenny (E. nigra), and from Ecuador comes E. lira, which is known only from three specimens. These belong to the Family Chaenopsidae, a blenny-like group that also includes aquarium species like the barnacle blennies (Acanthemblemaria), the larger, predatory pikeblennies (Chaenopsis) and the unusual, mimetic wrasse-blenny (Hemiemblemaria). Another relative is the remarkable Sarcastic Fringehead (Neoclinus blanchardi), whose incredible territorial displays have been featured widely in nature documentaries.

The captive care of E. myersi is essentially the same as with the more traditional barnacle blennies. Their maximum size is less than three inches, making them an ideal addition to smaller aquariums. They spend most of their time perched atop rocks or nestled snuggly within a crevice, hole or discarded snail shellin the wild, theyll usually be found within the discarded opening of a vermitid snail (though, oddly, they seem to rarely use barnacles, as their name might suggest).

Multiple specimens can be kept together, though it is common for them to squabble amongst themselves over territory and females. Despite their bickering, E. myersi is safe to mix with most smaller fishes and is far more likely to be picked on by other species than to cause any drama itself. Groups that might be best avoided are dottybacks and certain other blennies (though Meiacanthus fangblennies should be fine).

Unlike the familiar combtooth blennies of the Family Blenniidae, which feed by rasping algae, the barnacle blennies are carnivores, lunging from their holes at breakneck speed to chase down whatever morsels might pass by them. This is one of their most endearing qualities in the home aquarium, as their energetic performance come feeding time never fails to amuse. With aquarium collection from the Eastern Pacific being relatively limited, its best to snatch these up whenever you see them available, as they arent always around.