Starry Blenny: A Quirky and Hard-Working Saltwater Fish

| Updated: July 13, 2023
Starry blenny swimming through a reef tank with zoas and other coral in the background

Do you love saltwater fish that have personality and charm? Do you want a fish that can help you keep your reef tank clean and healthy? If you answered yes to both questions, then you might want to meet the starry blenny. This fish is a herbivorous grazer that will munch on algae in a mature aquarium and add some fun and function to your setup. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the starry blenny, including its natural habitat, appearance, behavior, diet, compatibility, and care requirements.

Species Overview

Scientific Name
Salarias ramosus
Common Names
Reef Blenny, Rock Blenny, Starry Lawnmower Blenny, Coral Blenny, & Snowflake Blenny
Indo-Pacific Region
Adult Size
5 to 6 inches
Life Expectancy
Up to 6 Years
Minimum Tank Size
Captive Breedable

Natural Habitat

The starry blenny can be found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, near the Philippines and Australia. It likes shallow rocky areas or near coral reefs where it can quickly hide when predators come by. It can be found at depths from 3 to 50 feet, wherever filamentous algae are plentiful and tasty.


The starry blenny has a mottled dark brown body with lots of white dots that give it a starry look. It also has yellow pectoral and tail fins that contrast with its dark color. It has a long, slender body with a blunt head and big eyes. It has a single dorsal fin that runs along most of its back and a small mouth with comb-like teeth that are made for scraping algae off surfaces.


The starry blenny is a boisterous blenny that likes to perch and hop from rock to rock, looking for microalgae to graze on. It’s not a shy fish and will often show its personality and curiosity by exploring its surroundings and interacting with other tank mates. It’s not usually aggressive unless the tank mates look like they have a similar shape or size as it does. It’s best to keep it alone unless you have a bigger tank and they’re a mated pair. It tends to be active during the day and will hide in crevices or caves at night.

What Do Starry Blennies Eat?

The starry blenny is an herbivore that eats mainly algae in its natural habitat. In captivity, it will also help you get rid of unwanted hair and string algae. However, you shouldn’t rely on the natural algae growth alone to feed your starry blenny. You should also give it some vegetable matter, such as Spirulina, nori, or other seaweed-based foods. You can also offer it some herbivore preparations or pellets that are specially made for marine fish. You should feed your starry blenny once or twice a day, depending on how much algae is in your tank.

Ideal Aquarium Conditions

The starry blenny doesn’t have any special water parameters requirements. Making it a perfect beginner fish. It will do well with the usual saltwater aquarium conditions that are good for most reef fish. Here are some general guidelines for keeping your starry blenny healthy and happy:

  • Temperature: 72-78°F
  • Specific Gravity: 1.020-1.025
  • pH: 8.1-8.4
  • KH: 8-12 dKH
  • Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate: 0/0/<20 ppm

You should also provide your starry blenny with plenty of live rock or other structure for perching and hiding. The live rock should have some algae growth on it to give your starry blenny a natural food source. You should also make sure that your tank has a tight-fitting lid or border around the top that prevents jumping, as the starry blenny is known to be a jumper when excited, which seems to be often.

Compatible Tank-Mates

There are tons of great tank-mates for starry blennies, but to get you started, here is a short list if you’re looking for ideas:

The starry blenny is a relatively peaceful community fish that can get along with most other reef-safe fish in your tank. However, you should avoid keeping it with aggressive or semi-aggressive fish, such as lionfish, eels, triggerfish, etc., as they may bother or hurt your starry blenny. You should also avoid keeping it with similar species or shapes of fish, such as other blennies, gobies, or dottybacks, as they may fight for food or space. You should also be careful with keeping it with invertebrates, such as shrimp, crabs, or snails, as the starry blenny may nip at them or eat them if hungry.

The starry blenny is generally reef safe and won’t harm your corals or other sessile invertebrates. However, some starry blennies may develop a taste for coral polyps or other fleshy parts of your corals and nip at them occasionally. This is not a common behavior and can be prevented by feeding your starry blenny enough vegetable matter and algae. If you notice your starry blenny nipping at your corals, you may want to take it out of your reef tank and put it in a fish-only tank.

Caring For Your Starry Blenny

The starry blenny is not a hard fish to care for as long as you give it the right environment and diet. Here are some tips for keeping your starry blenny healthy and happy in your home aquarium:


Acclimate your starry blenny slowly and carefully to your tank. The starry blenny can be a bit delicate when first introduced to a new tank and may suffer from stress or shock if the water parameters are too different from its original source. You should use a drip acclimation method to gradually adjust your starry blenny to your tank water over an hour or more.


Quarantine your starry blenny before adding it to your main tank. The starry blenny can be prone to parasitic infections, such as ich or marine velvet, that can spread to other fish in your tank. You should keep your starry blenny in a separate quarantine tank for at least two weeks and watch it for any signs of disease or illness. If you see any symptoms, such as white spots, scratching, breathing difficulties, etc., you should treat your starry blenny accordingly with medication or natural remedies.


Monitor your starry blenny’s health and behavior regularly. The starry blenny is a hardy fish that can adapt to various conditions and situations. However, you should still keep an eye on your starry blenny’s health and behavior and look for any signs of stress, disease, or injury. Some common signs of trouble are:

  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy
  • hiding
  • aggression
  • color changes

If you see any of these signs, you should check your water parameters and take action to fix the issue as soon as possible.

Water Changes

Perform regular water changes and maintenance on your tank. The starry blenny is not a messy fish and won’t produce a lot of waste. However, you should still perform regular water changes and maintenance on your tank to keep the water quality high and stable.

You should change about 10-20% of the water every week or two and remove any debris or excess algae from the tank. You should also check and clean your filter, heater, skimmer, and other equipment regularly to make sure they’re working properly.

Final Thoughts

The starry blenny is a quirky, hard-working saltwater fish that can add fun and function to your reef tank. It’s an herbivorous grazer that will help you control algae growth in your tank and also show its personality and charm. It’s not a demanding fish and will do well with standard saltwater aquarium conditions. While generally peaceful and reef safe, they may have some issues with similar species or shapes of fish or invertebrates, especially in smaller tanks. It’s not a hard fish to care for as long as you give it enough vegetable matter and algae to eat and acclimate it well to your tank.

I hope this article has given you some helpful information about the starry blenny and how to care for it in your home aquarium. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. I’d love to hear from you!

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