Slender Snake Blenny, Sticharium dorsale Günther 1867

Other Names: Multicolor Snake Blenny, Sand Crawler

A pair of Slender Snake Blennies, Sticharium dorsale, in Port Phillip, Victoria. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved

A pale greyish to brownish snake blenny with fine broken stripes along the sides, a broad pale stripe along the back from behind the eye to below the rear of the dorsal fin, with a dark stripe below, an orangish abdomen and rear of head, and wavy white marks anteriorly and dark marks posteriorly on the head.

Cite this page as:
Sticharium dorsale in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Nov 2019,

Slender Snake Blenny, Sticharium dorsale Günther 1867

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Endemic to southern Australia, from the Sydney region, New South Wales, to Rottnest Island, Western Australia, and south to Esperance Point, Tasmania.

Inhabits sandy areas near reefs, seagrass and algal beds in depths to 10 m.


Dorsal fin XXXVI-XLIII, 1; Anal fin II, 33-39; Caudal fin 13; Pectoral fin 8-11; Pelvic fin I,2. 
Body very shallow (9-12% SL) and elongate, compressed, gradually tapering to shallow caudal peduncle. Head small (17-22% SL); eyes small (10-21% HL); mouth small (upper jaw length 24-27% HL), oblique, maxillae reaching to below rear half of eyes; lower lip not fleshy, no flap at tip reaching in front of upper jaw; teeth conical, moderately large, band at front of each jaw, single row laterally; roof of mouth with curved row of teeth. 
Scales inconspicuous, tiny, cycloid, not overlapping; lateral line not associated with scales, consisting of 32-42 pores originating above each opercle, series of pit like depressions along centre of side posteriorly.  
Single dorsal and anal fins with very long bases and fairly uniform heights, both broadly joined by membranes to caudal fin, dorsal fin arising above anus, last anal fin ray reaching distinctly short of caudal fin base; caudal fin almost pointed. Pectoral fins moderately small, much longer than eye diameter, lower extent of base at, or below level of anal fin base. Pelvic fins much longer than eye diameter, arising at base of opercular openings.  


Pale greyish or brownish with irregular, broken, fine, slightly darker stripes on sides and creamy white stripe middorsally from behind eyes to end of dorsal fin, lower edge of pale stripe with dark margin;  abdomen and rear of head orangish, head with wavy white marks anteriorly and dark marks posteriorly;  dorsal fin creamy white, anal fin clear, caudal fin brown with clear edge.


"Crawls" just below the surface of the sand with only its eyes exposed, leaping partly out to feed.

Species Citation

Sticharium dorsale Günther 1867, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 3 20(8): 63. Type locality: Port Jackson, New South Wales.


Australian Faunal Directory

Slender Snake Blenny, Sticharium dorsale Günther 1867


Allen, G.R. 1985. Fishes of Western Australia. Book 9. 2207-2534 526 pls in Burgess, W.E. & Axelrod, H.R. (eds). Pacific Marine Fishes. Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications.

Edgar, G.J. 2008. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 2, 624 pp.

George, A. & Springer, V.G. 1980. Revision of the clinid fish tribe Ophiclinini, including five new species, and definition of the family Clinidae. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 307: 1-31 figs 1-14.

Günther, A. 1867. Additions to the knowledge of Australian reptiles and fishes. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3 20(8): 45-68.

Hoese, D.F., Gomon, M.F. & Rennis, D.S. 2008. Family Clinidae. pp. 696-722 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs.

Rennis, D., Hoese, D.F. & Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Clinidae. pp. 741-775, figs 650-684B in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Scott, E.O.G. 1967. Observations on some Tasmanian fishes: Part 15. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 101: 189-220 figs 1-3 (as Breona greeni)

Williams, J.T., Holleman, W. & Clements, K.D. 2014. Sticharium dorsale. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T178942A1550718. Downloaded on 04 September 2018.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37414005

Behaviour:Buries in sand

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-10 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:9.5 cm TL


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