Oyster Blenny, Omobranchus anolius (Valenciennes 1836)

Other Names: Crested Blenny

An female Oyster Blenny, Omobranchus anolius, in Rose Bay, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, March 2016. Source: Sylke Rohrlach / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-ShareAlike

A comb-tooth blenny often found in mussel and oyster beds. Males have a prominent fleshy crest on the head, and long filamentous dorsal-fin rays. Oyster Blennies are usually olive green, with black spots and fine bluish or blackish lines along sides, and fine pale wavy lines on head.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Omobranchus anolius in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Apr 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/4742

Oyster Blenny, Omobranchus anolius (Valenciennes 1836)

More Info


Widespread in shallow tropical and temperate waters of eastern and south-eastern Australia, from Port Curtis, Queensland, to Spencer Gulf, South Australia. The species has recently also been recorded in New Zealand. Inhabits shallow bays and estuaries, often among oyster and mussel beds, in depths to 10 m.


Dorsal fin XI-XIII, 17-19; Anal fin II, 19-20; Caudal fin 12-13; Pectoral fin 13;
Pelvic fin I, 2.
Body long, slender, compressed, snout steep, mouth small, eyes near top of head. Tentacles absent from nostrils and above eye. Dorsal fin long-based, pelvic fins reduced to a hidden spine and two long, slender rays. Males with a prominent fleshy crest on the head, and long filamentous dorsal-fin rays.


To 9 cm.


Olive green to greyish, with black spots and fine bluish or blackish lines along sides, and fine whitish wavy lines on head.



Like all blennies, the sexes are separate and females lay demersal, adhesive eggs. Females deposit 200-500 eggs in batches, commonly on the inside of oyster shells (Francis et al. 2004). They also spawn in mussel shells and calcareous worm tubes. The male parent guards the eggs until the larvae hatch. The larvae have a planktonic phase.

Oyster blennies live in association with oyster shells, mussel shells and calcareous polychaete worm tubes, usually in the intertidal region of bays and estuaries. Females lay their eggs in empty oyster or mussel shells.


Of no interest to fisheries.


  • IUCN Red List : Least Concern
  • Etymology

    The species is named anolius after anole lizards of the genus Anolis (anoles), in reference to the how the blenny “raises its little head like these little saurians named anolis” (translation from Valenciennes' description, Scharpf & Lazara 2020).

    Species Citation

    Blennechis anolius Valenciennes, in Cuvier  & Valenciennes 1836, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons Vol. 11: 288. Type locality: Port Jackson, New South Wales.


    Bray, D.J. 2021


    Atlas of Living Australia

    Oyster Blenny, Omobranchus anolius (Valenciennes 1836)


    Castelnau, F.L. de 1879. Essay on the ichthyology of Port Jackson. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 3(4): 347-402 (described as Blennius unicornis)

    Chao, N.L., McEachran, J., Patzner, R.A. & Williams, J. 2010. Omobranchus anolius. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T155099A4704977. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-4.RLTS.T155099A4704977.en. Downloaded on 16 December 2020.

    De Vis, C.W. 1884. On new fish from Moreton Bay. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 1(3): 144-147 (described as Salarias galeatus)

    Francis, M.P., Smith, P.J., Walsch, C., & Gomon, M.F. 2004. First records of the Australian blenny, Omobranchus anolius, from New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 38: 671-679.

    Gibbs, S., Hundt, P., Nelson, A., Egan, J., Tongnunui, P. & Simons, A. 2018. Systematics of the combtooth blenny clade Omobranchus (Blenniidae: Omobranchini), with notes on early life history stages. Zootaxa 4369(2): 270-280. https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4369.2.7

    Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. 1994. The fishes of Australia's south coast. State Print, Adelaide, Australia.

    Gray, C.A. & Miskiewicz, A.G. 2000. Larval fish assemblages in south-east Australian coastal waters: seasonal and spatial structure. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 50: 549–570. 

    Gray, C.A., Otway, N.M., Laurenson, E.A., Miskiewicz, A.G. & Pethebridge, R.L. 1992. Distribution and abundance of marine fish larvae in relation to effluent plumes from sewage outfalls and depth of water. Marine Biology 113: 549–559. 

    Günther, A. 1861. Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the acanthopterygian fishes in the collection of the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 3 586 pp. (as Petroscirtes anolius)

    Jenkins, G.P. 1986. Composition, seasonality and distribution of ichthyoplankton in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 37: 507–520. 

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

    Macleay, W.J. 1881. Descriptive catalogue of the fishes of Australia. Part 3. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 6(1): 1-138 pls 1-2  (described as Petroscirtes cristiceps and Petroscirtes guttatus)

    Macleay, W.J. 1884. Notices of new fishes. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 9(1): 170-172 (described as Petroscirtes wilsoni)

    Marshall, T.C. 1964. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coastal Waters of Queensland. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 566 pp. 136 pls.

    McCulloch, A.R. 1917. Ichthyological notes. Australian Zoologist 1: 89-93.

    Neira, F.J., Miskiewicz, A.G. & Trnski, T. 1998. Larvae of temperate Australian fishes: laboratory guide for larval fish identification. University of Western Australia Press.

    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. 

    Scharpf, C. & Lazara, K.J. 2020. Order Blenniiformes: Family Blenniidae in The ETYFish Project: Fish Name Etymology Database, accessed 16 Dec 2020, https://www.etyfish.org/blenniiformes2/

    Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 2008. Family Blenniidae. pp. 693-696 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. 

    Springer, V.G. 1972. Synopsis of the tribe Omobranchini with descriptions of three new genera and two new species (Pisces : Blenniidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 130: 1-31 figs 1-16

    Springer, V.G. & Gomon, M.F. 1975. Revision of the blenniid fish genus Omobranchus with descriptions of three new species and notes on other species of the tribe Omobranchini. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 177: 135.

    Steindachner, F. 1863. Ichthyologische Mittheilungen (VI). Verhandlungen der Zoologisch-Botanischen Gesellschaft in Wien 13: 1189-1192 fig. (described as Petroscirtes altivelis)

    Stewart, A.L., Struthers, C.D. & Barker, J.J. 2015. 217 Family Blenniidae.  pp. 1528-1538, in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. (eds). The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 4 pp. 1153-1748.

    Thomson, J.M. & Bennett, A.E. 1953. The oyster blenny, Omobranchus anolius (Valenciennes) (Blenniidae). Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 4: 227-233. 

    Valenciennes, A. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1836. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 11 506 pp. pls 307-343. See ref at BHL

    Whitley, G.P. 1964. A survey of Australian Ichthyology. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 89(1): 11-127 (as Cyneichthys anolius)

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37408058

    Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

    Depth:0-10 m

    Habitat:Intertidal in mussel & oyster shells

    Max Size:9 cm TL


    Species Image Gallery

    Species Maps

    CAAB distribution map