Eyelash Fangblenny, Meiacanthus atrodorsalis (Günther 1877)

Other Names: Eyelash Harp-tail, Eye-lash Harptail Blenny, Eye-lash Harptail-Blenny, Forktail Fangblenny, Lyretail Blenny, Yellowtail Fangblenny

An Eyelash Fangblenny, Meiacanthus atrodorsalis, at Apo Island Zamboanguita, Central Visayas, Philippines. Source: Klaus Stiefel / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial

A fangblenny with a greyish-blue head and anterior body becoming pale yellow to whitish towards the rear of the body, a yellowish caudal fin, a black basal stripe along the dorsal fin, and a distinctive oblique blue-edged black 'eyelash' bar through the eye that sometimes extends to the top of the head. The upper and lower caudal-fin lobes of adults are filamentous.
The Eyelash Fangblenny has large venomous canines in the lower jaw that are used for defense and aggressive interactions with other Eyelash Fangblennies, not for feeding. Potential predators quickly learn to avoid these small venomous fishes, allowing the blennies to forage out in open water. This species is mimicked by the Bicolor Fangblenny, Plagiotremus laudandus, and possibly by the Bicolor Combtooth Blenny, Ecsenius bicolor.

Video of Eyelash Fangblennies at Miyako Island, Okinawa

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Meiacanthus atrodorsalis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 Nov 2022, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1916

Eyelash Fangblenny, Meiacanthus atrodorsalis (Günther 1877)

More Info


Recorded in Australia from Rowley Shoals, Western Australia, to Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea, and the Great Barrier Reef and reefs in the Coral Sea Queensland, to Sydney, New South Wales. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the Western Pacific from Bali and the Philippines east to Samoa, north to Ryukyu Islands, south Australia and New Caledonia, and throughout Micronesia.
Individuals, pairs, or sometimes small groups, inhabit lagoon and seaward reefs, often along slopes or drop-offs. 


Dorsal fin IV, 25-28; Anal fin II, 15-18. 


Characterised by the blue-edged diagonal black line running from the eye to the top of the head, and yellow dorsal fin or back. Adults have long filaments on the caudal fin tips; length without filaments. The species has an enormous curved, venomous fang on each side of the lower jar. The fangs, which are used for defence, are characteristic of the genus Meiacanthus. Max. length: 11.0 cm. Depth range: 1 - 30 m.


Feeds on zooplankton and small benthic invertebrates.


When the fangblenny bites a predator, the pressure forces venom to be secreted from a gland at the base of the groove to the tip of the canine in the lower jaw. Potential predators quickly learn to avoid these small venomous fishes, allowing the blennies to forage out in open water. A number of other fishes, often as juveniles, mimic sabre-toothed blennies to avoid predation.


The large venomous fangs in the lower jaw are characteristic of Meiacanthus blennies, and are used for defence.

Similar Species

Grey-blue front half of body grading to a yellow tail with long filamentous upper and lower lobes, black stripe along base of dorsal fin and distinctive ‘eyelash’ marking (short oblique bar through eye). The Bicolor Fangblenny, Plagiotremus laudandus,(which mimics the Eyelash Fangblenny,  lacks the 'eyelash' and has black sub-marginal stripe rather than a basal stripe along the dorsal fin.
The Twilight Fangblenny, Meiacanthus phaeus, also lacks the 'eyelash' bar, and is bluish-grey in colour.


The specific name atrodorsalis is from Latin atro (= black) and dorsalis (= of the back) in reference to the dark submarginal stripe usually present in the dorsal fin.

Species Citation

Petroscirtes atrodorsalis,  Günther, 1877, Andrew Garrett's Fische der Südsee Bd 2 (Heft 6): 198, Pl. 115 (fig. B). Type locality: Samoa


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Eyelash Fangblenny, Meiacanthus atrodorsalis (Günther 1877)


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Günther, A. 1877. Andrew Garrett's Fische der Südsee. Heft 6. Journal des Museum Godeffroy, Hamburg 4(13): 169-216 pls 101-120

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Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. A comprehensive guide to the coral reef fishes of Micronesia. Guam : Coral Graphics vi 330 pp. 192 pls.

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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: Bleniidae): an update. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philad. 139: 1-52.

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. & Allen, G.R. 2011. Three new species of the fangblenny genus Meiacanthus from Indonesia, with color photographs and comments on other species (Teleostei: Blenniidae: Nemophini). Zootaxa 3046: 39-58.

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. & Allen, G.R. 2019.  Meiacanthus solomon, a new fangblenny (Teleostei: Blenniidae) from the Solomon Islands, with a redescription and new records of M. limbatus. Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation 33: 44-52. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3268872

Smith-Vaniz, W. F., Satapoomin, U. &  Allen, G.R. 2001. Meiacanthus urostigma, a new fangblenny from the northeastern Indian Ocean, with discussion and examples of mimicry in species of Meiacanthus (Teleostei: Blenniidae: Nemophini). aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 5(1): 25-43 See ref online

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, J.T. 2014. Meiacanthus atrodorsalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T48342093A48357847. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T48342093A48357847.en. Downloaded on 25 May 2020.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37408051

Biology:Venomous fangs

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-30 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:11 cm TL

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