The blennies are generally small fish, from 4 to 12 cm, with Parablennius gattorugine (Tompot) reaching up to 30 cm in length. These fish are often found on the bottom or on rocks, backed into small holes with only their head poking out. Blennies will perch up on their pectoral fins and are distinguished by the appendages on their head, called cirri, that look like little horns.

Blennies are often found within discrete territories in very shallow water, especially those species that feed on light-loving algae, and can be observed by snorkelers as well as divers. Retreating into holes when disturbed, they are often curious and will re-emerge with a little patience.

Blennies’ vivid markings and distinctive cirri make them wonderful subjects for macro photography.

Parablennius pilicornis is a particularly fascinating species of blenny due to the wide colour variations that it displays: from golden yellow through (almost) black, both with a faint speckling, to a light or dark patterned version – in which the ringed neck (under the chin) is most obvious.

Dorsal finrays XII + 21; anal finrays II + 23; pectoral finrays 14; pelvic finrays I + 3. Colour: variable, mostly 'spot pattern'; basically yellowish-green and body and dorsal fin with irregular dark brown spots. Spawning males with bulb glands on spiny anal finrays. Size: to 11 cm.

Rocky shores, often at steep walls of surf-exposed sites, from 0.3 to 6m.

Food: invertebrates, especially polychaetes.

Reproduction: no data.

parablennius pilicornis dark variation 20121113 1503652627

Dark variation

parablennius pilicornis golden variation 20121113 1208924906

Golden variation

parablennius pilicornis showing dorsal fin spot 20121113 1578207055

Lighter variation

Parablennius pilicornis light variation

Showing ringed-neck

Some researchers have speculated that the golden variety is a developmental phase of the species, as it tends to be about half the size of the other variations.

On the Costa Brava we find three species of Triplefin blenny

1. the Small triplefin, Triptergion melanurus

Small triplefin, Triptergion melanurus

2. the Red triplefin, Tripterygion tripteronotus

Red triplefin, Tripterygion tripteronotusfin, Tripterygion tripteronotusRed triplefin, Tripterygion tripteronotus

3. the Yellow triplefin, Tripterygion delaisi

Yellow Triplefin Blenny