Zebra Blenny, Cirripectes quagga (Fowler & Ball 1924)

Other Names: Squiggly Blenny

A Zebra Blenny, Cirripectes quagga, from the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, USNM 407979. Source: Jeffrey T. Williams, Division of Fishes, Smithsonian Institution, United States National Museum. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A small agile blenny ranging from uniform brown to individuals with bars, spots, or a yellow to scarlet red caudal peduncle, and an ocellated spot on the gill cover.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Cirripectes quagga in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Mar 2023, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1902

Zebra Blenny, Cirripectes quagga (Fowler & Ball 1924)

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Northern Great Barrier Reef to at least One Tree Island, Queensland; also Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species is widespread and locally abundant in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific.
Inhabits the algal ridge and crests in the surge zone on exposed seaward reefs.


Dorsal XI-XIII, 14-16; Anal fin II, 15-17; Pectoral fin 15; Pelvic fin I, 4; Caudal fin procurrent rays 10-15; Gill rakers 18-26; Vertebrae 10 + 21 = 30-32; Lateral line tubes 7-18.

Head and body deep and greatly compressed; snout broad and obtuse, convex in profile; eye high and advanced; mouth broad and lower jaw inferior slightly. 
Dorsal fin membrane attached to caudal fin, with deep notch above last spine, first spine about equal to twice higher than second; lateral line without scales and scalelike flaps, canal ends below 7th dorsal-fin ray to caudal-fin base. Lower lip crenulated mesially, plicate laterally. Upper lip crenulae 32-46. 
Cephalic sensory pore system complex. Midsnout pores present. Cirri, supraorbital 2-15, nasal 6-16; nuchal 23-36, in 2 groups separated at midpoint of nape, no nuchal flap. Body depth at anal-fin origin 4.3 in SL. 


Herbivore - feeds on benthic algae.


The specific name is from Equus quagga, the scientific name of the zebra, in reference to the “rather obscure cross lines or bands” on the body of this species.

Species Citation

Rupiscartes quagga Fowler & Ball 1924, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci., Philad 76: 273. Type locality: Wake Island. 


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Zebra Blenny, Cirripectes quagga (Fowler & Ball 1924)


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

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands.Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21. 

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp. 

Carlson, B.A. 1980. A new Indo-Pacific fish of the genus Cirripectes (Blenniidae, Salariini).Pacific Science 34(4): 407-414.

Delrieu-Trottin, E., Liggins, L., Trnski, T., Williams, J.T., et al. 2018. Evidence of cryptic species in the blenniid Cirripectes alboapicalis species complex, with zoogeographic implications for the South Pacific. ZooKeys 810: 127-138. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.810.28887

Fowler, H.W. & Ball, S.C. 1924. Descriptions of new fishes obtained by the Tanager Expedition of 1923 in the Pacific Islands west of Hawaii. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 76: 269-274.

Hoban, M.L. & Williams, J.T. 2020. Cirripectes matatakaro, a new species of combtooth blenny from the Central Pacific, illuminates the origins of the Hawaiian fish fauna. PeerJ 8:e8852 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.8852

Hobbs, J-P.A., Newman, S.J., Mitsopoulos, G.E.A., Travers, M.J., Skepper, C.L., Gilligan, J.J., Allen, G.R., Choat, H.J. & Ayling, A.M. 2014. Checklist and new records of Christmas Island fishes: the influence of isolation, biogeography and habitat availability on species abundance and community composition. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 184–202 See ref online

Hobbs, J-P.A., Newman, S .J., Mitsopoulos, G.E.A., Travers, M.J., Skepper, C.L., Gilligan, J.J., Allen, G.R., Choat, H.J. & Ayling, A.M. 2014. Fishes of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands: new records, community composition and biogeographic significance. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 203–219 See ref online

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. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. 

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

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

Williams JT. 1986. Phylogenetic relationships and taxonomic revision of the Blenniid Fish genera Cirripectes and Scartichthys. PhD thesis, University of Florida https://doi.org/10.5962/bhl.title.48741

Williams, J.T. 1988. Revision and phylogenetic relationships of the blenniid fish genus Cirripectes. Indo-Pacific Fishes 17: 1-78 figs 1-21 col. pls 1-7

Williams, J.T. 2014. Cirripectes quagga. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T48342428A48361110. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T48342428A48361110.en. Downloaded on 17 September 2016.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37408016

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-19 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:10 cm TL

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