Other Phyla

British Marine Life Study Society

  Tompot Blenny
Tompot Blenny (Photograph by Ron Barrett)
Common Name(s):
Tompot Blenny
Scientific Name:
Parablennius gattorugine
Family:   Blennidae 
Usual Size: 20 cm 
 to 156 g
                         Photograph by Ron Barrett
A medium-sized blenny, elongate small fish of a large family of fishes that live in rocky areas in shallow water. All true blennies have a continuous dorsal fin; the first dorsal fins are spiny and the remainder are soft. The pectoral finds are relatively large. 

Distinguished by a pair of tentacles/lappets over the eye. 

               Photograph by Andy Horton
Usually a deep brown-orange. 
Similar species: Red Blenny, Parablennius ruber
Coryphoblennius galerita, Lipophrys pholis (Smooth Blenny),  Blennius ocellaris (Butterfly Blenny), Yarrell's Blenny, Chirolophis ascanii
The presence of the eye tentacles are definitive. See link below. The first fin does not contain the ocellated spot of the Butterfly Blenny. 
Breeding:  Spring 
Habitat: Rocky areas below low water mark, rarely intertidal where both similar species are to be found in the summer. 
Found on the shore at Dawlish, Devon, in winter only. 
Infrequent on the shore in Sussex (1 in 100 visits on favourable tides in spring and autumn). 
Food: Small invertebrates including sea anemones. Sharp comb-like teeth. 
Range:  See map. The precise distribution around the Irish coast needs further research. 
Additional Notes: A common fish familiar to divers. 

Dorset Photographs:

A Tompot Blenny with red head lappets (tentacles), 
a colourful variety that seem invariable in the seas off Dorset.
Photograph by Neil Horlock

Swanage Pier Picture Gallery (with Tompot Blennies)

5 August 2008
We have just come back from Dorset and while visiting Swanage for the day my son Reece Beechey, who is twelve, went crabbing off of the pier and caught a fish ! A gentleman came over to look and told him it was a Tompot Blenny

Report from the Beechey Family 

15 August 2007
We dived the 'Rosalie' off Weybourne in Norfolk at the weekend and saw a Tompot Blenny. It was a fairly large one and was seen by several divers and we have some photos. According to our books, it has never been recorded on the east coast. Is this as exciting as we think?

Diving at Welbourne (Sunstar Sub-Aqua)
Tompot Blenny off Norfolk (Photograph by Dawn Watson) Tompot Blenny off Norfolk (Photograph by Dawn Watson)

Tompot Blennies off the Norfolk coast 
Photographs by Dawn Watson

The diver's that first saw the Tompot Blenny were Dawn and Rob, although there were at least eight people that saw it at the time. 

The biogeograhical distribution of the Tompot Blenny around Britain is currently under investigation. The books may just be wrong! They are found off the Sussex coast. 

More Information (Aquarium Study)

Information wanted: Please send any records of this fish, with location, date, who discovered it, how it was identified, prevalence, common name and any other details to 
Shorewatch Project

All messages willreceive a reply. 
Shorewatch Project
Report  Forms

Hannafore Point, Looe
Tompot Blennies, Parablennius gattorugine, are a common sight for shore divers along this coast, although it is extremely unusual to find them resident on the shore. I was very surprised, therefore, to find an adult looking at me from a crevice under a large rock that I moved aside. The fish was very brightly coloured in red and blue, and about 20 cm in length. 

When Deanna tried to catch it, it attached itself firmly to her glove with its sharp teeth, and proved somewhat difficult to remove to the bucket! In the aquarium, however, the fish displays none of the usual aggressive tendencies of other Tompots, and will come out of its hole to be stroked when the tank is approached! 

Immediately after capturing one Tompot, I found another, much larger at over 30 cm in length, and similarly brightly coloured.

Even more strangely, a couple of tiny fish (25 mm or so) that Deanna found under small stones also turned out to be baby Tompots once we had returned home, and they are delightful aquarium residents, bustling about the tank and perching on rocks to watch the other residents. 

by Jon Makeham & Deanna Webb (Looe)

26 October 2000
A juvenile Tompot collected from the shore at Worthing is unusual, although I have seen one before this late in the year when the shore fauna is scanty.  AH.

Red Blenny (Probable), Parablennius ruber. (Photograph by Roy Bridgewater)1 May 2004
A very colourful blenny has made a niche for itself in a crevice on the wreck of the  "James Elgan Layne" in Whitsand Bay, Plymouth, Devon. This is a common small fish known as a Tompot Blenny, Parablennius gattorugine, not the similar but more colourful fish known as the Red Blenny, Parablennius ruber, which has only recently been discovered as an inhabitant of the seas around Ireland and Scotland, could be mistaken for the fish in the photograph on the left. The latter discovery would be newsworthy.
Previous feature in the "Torpedo" News Bulletin

Report, photograph and discovery by Roy Bridgewater and Andy Morris
Comment by Andy Horton (BMLSS)
Swanage Pier Picture Gallery (with Tompot Blennies)

BMLSS Blennies

Differences between Blennies & Gobies
Links: blennies.htm
More Information

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