News / Species Spotlight / Green Canary Blenny (Meiacanthus tongaensis) (10/17/18)

Green Canary Blenny (Meiacanthus tongaensis)

Species Spotlight - Green Canary Blenny (Meiacanthus tongaensis)
Tonga is home to a number of reef species found nowhere else, and Quality Marine is able to offer several of these through our exclusive local supplier. This small island nation sits at the far end of Melanesia, and, in general, it shares most of its fauna with the West Pacific and Central Pacific. But, for a few groups prone to extensive speciation, the isolation of these islands has led to some interesting novelties.

Examples include the Black Foxface (Siganus niger), Nahackys Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus nahackyi), and Barbers Tomato Clowfish (Amphiprion barberi), the latter of which is shared with neighboring Fiji. Fiji and Tonga have many similarities when it comes to fish, and an interesting illustration of this can be seen with the Green Canary Blenny (Meiacanthus tongaensis) and the Canary Blenny (M. oualanensis). Both belong to a widespread Indo-Pacific complex of regionally distinct species (many presently undescribed) related to M. atrodorsalis, the Forktail Blenny.

In Fiji, we find the bright yellow Canary Blenny, but in Tonga it is replaced by the Green Canary Blenny. The differences in coloration are a bit more subtle than their common names would indicate. The green of C. tongaensis is perhaps best described as chartreuse rather than something truly verdant, but this distinction is still easily perceived when compared side-by-side with the dazzling yellow of C. oualanensis. Another readily discernible difference can be seen in the dorsal fin, with Tongas version having a black stripe, a feature commonly seen with others in the atrodorsalis complex.

The Canary Blenny is justifiably a popular species, and it is frequently made available from commercial breeders, but its close cousin in Tonga offers an equally stunning look, with the contrast of its black stripe and the gentle gradation of colors in its bodies making for a gorgeous package.

Specimens are fully grown at around 4 inches in length and can be kept singly or in groups. As is typical for this genus, the Green Canary Blenny is a peaceful and hearty aquarium inhabitant, and, owing to its venomous fangs, this fish will generally be left alone by other tankmates, even those of a carnivorous disposition. For those who might be concerned by the thought of keeping a venomous fish, the bite of a fangblenny feels like little more than a pinprick and only tends to happen when handling a specimen out of water.

Fangblennies are far more carnivorous than their algae-eating relatives in the family, and a mix of mysis and brine shrimp makes for a good diet. A healthy sandbed in a well-established reef tank will offer plenty of other foraging opportunities, and, with time, dry foods will usually be accepted. Meiacanthus are also completely safe with corals, which, combined with their beautiful colors and peaceful disposition, make them an ideal addition to most aquariums.