Eyelash Fangblenny, Meiacanthus atrodorsalis (Günther 1877)

Other Names: Eyelash Harp-tail, 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 that becomes pale yellow to whitish, a yellowish caudal fin, a black basal stripe along the dorsal-fin base and a diagonal blue-edged black band through the eye.

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:
Dianne J. Bray, Meiacanthus atrodorsalis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 Jan 2020,

Eyelash Fangblenny, Meiacanthus atrodorsalis (Günther 1877)

More Info


Recorded in Australia from Rowley Shoals, WA, to Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, and north of Cape York, QLD, to Sydney, NSW; also at islands and reefs in the Coral Sea and at Lord Howe Island, in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the Western Pacific from Australia to Japan and eastwards to Samoa.


Carnivore - 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.

Species Citation

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


Dianne J. Bray

Eyelash Fangblenny, Meiacanthus atrodorsalis (Günther 1877)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

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

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

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. & T. Tonozuka. 2001. Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 2. Fusiliers - Dragonets, Caesionidae - Callionymidae. Zoonetics, Australia. 304-622 pp.

Losey, G.S. 1972. Predation protection in the poison-fang blenny, Meiacanthus atrodorsalis, and its mimics, Ecsenius bicolor and Runula laudandus (Blenniidae). Pacific Science 26(2): 129-139.

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.

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. & G.R. Allen. 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., U. Satapoomin & G.R. Allen. 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.

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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37408051

Biology:Venomous fangs

Depth:1-30 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:11 cm TL

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