Smallspotted Combtooth Blenny, Ecsenius stictus Springer 1988

Other Names: Great Barrier Reef Blenny, Japanese Coral Blenny, Small-spotted Comb-tooth

A Smallspotted Combtooth Blenny, Ecsenius stictus, resting on on an agaricid coral, on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Source: Andy Lewis / Lizard Island Field Guide License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

A pale comb-tooth blenny with sparse fine dark spots peppering the rear of the body, a dark Y-shaped or forked mark on the fleshy pectoral-fin base, a black lower lip and black "chin-strap", and an indistinct dark stripe running from the rear of the eye to above the gill cover.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Ecsenius stictus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Jun 2024,

Smallspotted Combtooth Blenny, Ecsenius stictus Springer 1988

More Info


Northern Great Barrier Reef and reefs in the Coral Sea, to about Moreton Bay, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in the east-Indo-west-central Pacific. 
Inhabits shallow reefs, often perching on coral heads in lagoons and reef flats, at depths to 11 m - usually in areas not exposed to heavy surge.


Dorsal fin XII-XIII, (rarely XIII), 13-15; Anal fin II, 15-17; Pectoral fin 12-14 (rarely 12 or 14); Segmented caudal-fin rays 13; Vertebrae 10 + 21-23. 
Dorsal fin deeply incised between spinous and segmented-ray areas. Dentary incisor teeth which includes anterior canines very similar in appearance from incisors, 46-54 in males and 48 to 56 in females, averaging more in females than males; posterior canines 0 or 1 (usually 1). 
Lateral line without vertical pairs of pores, extending posteriorly to point between vertical from interspace between 9th and 10th spines and vertical from base of 11th dorsal-fin spine (rarely anterior to base of 10th spine). With cirrus on posterior rim of anterior nostril; absent on anterior rim. 


Body pale with a distinct, dark Y-shaped mark on the fleshy pectoral-fin base, a black "chin-strap", fine dark spots sparsely peppering the rear of the body, a dark horizontal stripe from the rear of the eye above the gill cover, a dark lower lip followed by a conspicuous pale salmon-pink area on the chin and a dark dusky area behind.
The fine dark spots are aligned, more or less, in two or three rows, and may be continuous with dark dash-like marks anteriorly on the body.


Females lay demersal eggs that are attached to the bottom via a filamentous, adhesive pad or pedestal. The larvae are planktonic, often found in shallow, coastal waters.


Semi-translucent grey body, pale orange eyes, black ‘chinstrap’, dark V-shaped mark on pectoral fin base, faint spots and dashes in rows along body, and fine black spots scattered on rear half of body. Also has a darker colour form with a more heavily patterned body, black spots on rear of body are still present though.


Small family groups usually live atop large bommies and coral heads, perching on their pectoral and pelvic fins when not feeding.

Similar Species

The similar Palespotted Combtooth Blenny Ecsenius yaeyamensis, also has a dark Y-shaped dark mark on the fleshy pectoral-fin base, and has larger white spots on the body rather than fine black spots, along with distinct black dashes behind the eye.


The specific name is from the Greek stictus (= spotted), in reference to the fine dark spots on the body that distinguish the species.

Species Citation

Ecsenius stictus Springer, 1988, Smithson. Contrib. Zool. 465: 74, fig. 38, pl. 9(5, 6). Type locality: reef face about 1 mile from One Tree Island, Capricorn Group, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia, depth 0-15 feet. 


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Smallspotted Combtooth Blenny, Ecsenius stictus Springer 1988


Bath, H. 1977. Revision der Blenniini (Pisces: Blenniidae). Senckenbergiana Biologica 57(4/6): 167-234. 

Bath, H. & Hutchins, J.B. 1986. Die Blenniini des australischen Raums und Neuseelands mit Beschreibung einer neuen Art und einer neuen Unterart (Pisces: Blenniidae). Senckenbergiana Biologica 66(4/6): 167-213.

Coleman, N. 1981. Australian Sea Fishes North of 30°S. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 297 pp.

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

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Springer, V.G. 1971. Revision of the fish genus Ecsenius (Blenniidae, Blenniinae, Salariini). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 72: 1-74 figs 1-36 (as Ecsenius yaeyamaensis, in part - Great Barrier Reef) 

Springer, V.G. 1988. The Indo-Pacific blenniid fish genus Ecsenius. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology: i-iv + 1-134, col. Pls. 1-14. 

Townsend, K.A. & Tibbetts, I.R. 2000. Biomass and distribution of herbivorous blennies in the southern Great Barrier Reef. Journal of Fish Biology 56: 774-791. 

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Wilson, S.K. 2000. Trophic status and feeding selectivity of blennies (Blenniidae: Salariini). Marine Biology 136: 431-437

Wilson, S.K. 2001. Multiscale habitat associations of detrivorous blennies (Blenniidae: Salariini). Coral Reefs 20: 245-251.

Wilson, S.K. 2001. An investigation into the trophic nature of small reef fish from the tribe Salariini, family Blennidae, Ph.D. thesis, James Cook University, Australia. 

Wilson, S.K., Fisher, R. & Pratchett, M.S. 2013. Differential use of shelter holes by sympatric species of blennies (Blennidae). Marine Biology 160:  2405-2411

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37408031

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:2-11 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:6 cm TL

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