Hairtail Blenny, Xiphasia setifer Swainson 1839


Other Names: Eel Blenny, Hair-tail Blenny, Snake Blenny

A Hairtail Blenny, Xiphasia setifer, at the Pipeline, Nelson Bay, New South Wales, Feb 2009, depth 10 m. Source: Dave Harasti / http://www.daveharasti.com/. License: All rights reserved

Summary:

An eel-like sabre-toothed blenny with alternating light and dark bands on the yelllowish-brown head and body, and a blue-edged spot on dorsal fin behind the eye. Hairtail blennies have long-based dorsal and anal fins that are continuous with the tail fin, and large sabre-like fangs in each jaws.

The Hairtail Blenny usually lives in the burrows of other fishes, and divers usually only see the head poking out.

Video of a Hairtail Blenny swimming and feeding in Manado Bay, North Sulawesi, Indonesia in 2004.

A Hairtail Blenny resting on the bottom


Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Xiphasia setifer in Fishes of Australia, accessed 13 Nov 2019, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1094

Hairtail Blenny, Xiphasia setifer Swainson 1839

More Info


Distribution

Tropical and subtropical waters from Exmouth Gulf (Western Australia), around northern Australia to about Eden (New South Wales); also recorded from Lord Howe Island. Elsewhere, widespread in the Indo-west Pacific, from the Red Sea, South Africa, eastwards to Vanutau, southern Japan, and Papua New Guinea.

Lives in burrows on sandy or silty bottoms in depths of 2-150 m in Australia. This nocturnal species is rarely seen away from its burrow during the day.

Features

Dorsal fin XII-XIV, 105-119; Anal fin II, 107-119; Caudal fin (segmented rays) 10.

Body extremely elongate, slender, ribbon- or eel-like. Head small, eye large; jaws with an enlarged fang-like toothpresent on either side of upper and lower jaws.

All fin-rays unbranched. Dorsal and anal fins long-based, continuous with caudal fin. Dorsal fin arises above the eye, gill openings on side of head. Caudal fin sometimes with filaments extending from the centre of fin.

Size

To about 56 cm.

Colour

Brownish-yellow with alternating light and dark bands or bars along sides, darker bands continue onto dorsal fin; body paler below. Front of dorsal fin with blue horizontal lines and a blue-edged black ocellus or spot behind the head.

Feeding

Carnivore - feeds at night on fishes, crustaceans and other invertebrates. Belongs to the group known as "sabre-tooth blennies", all possessing enlarged canine teeth in their jaws used to bite scales a flesh from unsuspecting fishes.

Biology

Little is known of the biology of this species. Females lay demersal eggs that adhere to the bottom.

Fisheries

Traded in the aquarium industry, and occasionally caught as bycatch in commercial fisheries.

Remarks

Adults are occasionally attracted to lights at night and have been dip-netted from the surface.

Species Citation

Xiphasia setifer Swainson 1839, Nat. hist. classif. fishes ... 2: 259. Type locality: Vizagapatam [Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh State, India, Bay of Bengal, eastern Indian Ocean].

Author

Dianne J. Bray

Resources

Australian Faunal Directory

Hairtail Blenny, Xiphasia setifer Swainson 1839

References


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine fishes of tropical Australia and south-east Asia. Western Australian Museum, Perth. 292 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Perth : Western Australian Museum 201 pp. 70 pls

Blaber, S.J.M., D.T. Brewer & A.N. Harris. 1994. Distribution, biomass and community structure of demersal fishes of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 45(3): 375-396.

Burgess, W.E., Axelrod, H.R. & Hunziker III, R.E. 1990. Dr. Burgess's atlas of marine aquarium fishes. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to sea fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers pp. I-xvii + 1-434.

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Randall , J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R.C. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1976. The saber-toothed blennies, tribe Nemophini (Pisces : Blenniidae). Monographs of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 19: 1-196 figs 1-179

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1987. The saber-toothed blennies, tribe Nemophini (Pisces: Blenniidae): an update. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 139: 1-52 figs 1-29

Springer, V.G. 2001. Family Blenniidae, pp. 3538-3546. In: Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds) 2001. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

Swainson, W. 1839. The Natural History of Fishes, Amphibians, and Reptiles, or Monocardian Animals. London : Longman, Orme, Brown, Green & Longmans, and John Taylor Vol. 2 452 p. 135 figs

Watson, W. 2009. Larval development in blennies. pp. 309-350. In Patzner, R.A., E.J. Gonçalves, P.A. Hastings & B.G. Kapoor (eds) The biology of blennies. Science Publishers, Enfield, NH, USA. 482 pp.

Williams, J.T. 2014. Xiphasia setifer. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T46080159A48402209. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T46080159A48402209.en. Downloaded on 05 January 2016.

Quick Facts


CAAB Code:37408001

Biology:Sabre-tooth blenny

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:2-150 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Burrows in soft bottoms

Max Size:56 cm

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map