Animal Species:Hairtail Blenny, Xiphasia setifer Swainston, 1839
The Hairtail Blenny is a burrow-dwelling species that has an enormous fang on either side of the lower jaw.
The Hairtail Blenny has a long eel-like body with a high dorsal fin originating in front of the eyes. It has large eyes and two enormous curved fangs, one on either side near the front of the lower jaw.
This species is brownish-yellow with a series of brown bars. There is a blue-edged black ocellus anteriorly on the dorsal fin.
The species grows to 53 cm in length.
The Hairtail Blenny is found in tropical and warm temperate marine waters of the Indo-West Pacific. In Australia it is recorded from the central coast of Western Australia, around the tropical north and south to southern New South Wales.
The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.
Distribution by collection data
The Hairtail Blenny occurs on sandy or muddy substrates.
Other behaviours and adaptations
The Hairtail Blenny lives in the burrows of other fishes. It enters burrows tail first. Divers usually see just the head of this fish projecting from the sand.
Predators, Parasites and Diseases
In May 2013, Marine Ranger, Jimmy Maher from the Lord Howe Island Marine Park sent images to the museum of Hairtail Blenny specimens that were removed from the stomach of a Mahi Mahi.
- Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
- Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
- Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.
Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Tags fishes, ichthyology, Hairtail Blenny, Xiphasia setifer, Blenniidae, brown, yellow, blue, black, long and skinny, 30 cm - 1 m, stripes or bands, soft substrate, marine, adult, 10 cm - 30 cm, eel-like body,