Starry blenny on the move

Starry Blenny Aquarium Care Guide

The Starry Blenny is a quirky and hard-working saltwater fish that will munch on algae in a mature aquarium and help keep your reef looking in tip-top shape. They are a bit delicate, when first introduced, so let’s explore what it takes to properly care for this fish.

Table of Contents

Quick Facts About Starry Blenny Aquarium Care

Here are a few quick facts about the Starry Blenny

  • Scientific Name: Salarias ramosus
  • Common Names: Reef Blenny, Rock Blenny, Starry Lawnmower Blenny, Coral Blenny, & Snowflake Blenny
  • Max Size: 5 to 6 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30-Gallons, mature, with algae
  • Aggression Level: Peaceful
  • Care Level: Beginner, as long as you acclimate well and have algae to eat
  • Reef safe: Yes
  • Diet: Herbivorous

Natural habitat

The Starry Blenny can be found in the Pacific and Indian oceans, near the Philippines and Australia, preferring shallow rocky areas or near coral reefs where it can quickly seek refuge when predators approach, as far down as 50 feet or as close to the surface as 3 feet, wherever filamentous algae are abundant and available to eat.

Starry Blenny in reef

Ideal Tank Conditions

At a fully-grown size of 5 to 6 inches, the Starry Blenny is not a small saltwater fish, but they also are not open water swimmers, preferring to perch or graze on algae films to swimming about the tank. Therefore the ideal tank for them has a fair amount of live rock or other structure for perching and hiding and a natural film of algae.

Minimum tank size

They can be kept in a tank as small as 30-gallons, but would probably be a major player in a tank that size.

Protection from themselves

A tight-fitting lid or border around the top that prevents jumping is essential, as members of the Salarias genus, like their cousins the Lawnmower Blenny, are jumpers when excited.

Starry blenny corals

Algae for eating

The ideal tank for a Starry Blenny also has been established long enough to possess a natural population of algae, that can be supplemented with algae-containing commercial foods.

Water parameters

This fish doesn’t need any special water parameters. They will do well with the usual parameters. Learn more about those here.

Aggression

These are relatively peaceful community fish that should coexist calmly with the majority of your other saltwater aquarium fish. The one exception to this rule is to resist the urge to keep more than one similar algae blennies in the tank. I don’t recommend mixing species–and be cautious if trying to create a bonded pair–as you may still see aggression.

Reef safe

The Starry Blenny is herbivorous and is considered to be reef safe…that is unless you’re looking at this from an alga’s perspective. The one area they may get into a bit of trouble is with their insatiable desire to nip at surfaces to strip away the algae. While they aren’t likely trying to eat your prized corals, their natural grazing behavior may cause some distress to some coral polyps, or they may dislodge and knock over a coral frag, in pursuit of that tasty algal film.

Snowflake blenny on green zoanthids

Compatibility

Here are a few suggestions of some reef-safe community fish for a tank with a Starry Blenny. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather just a starting point for you to begin exploring:

You’ll want to avoid aggressive or semi-aggressive fish, like Lionfish, Snowflake or Ribbon eels, Triggerfish, etc., and avoid similar species like the Lawnmower blenny

Diet and Feeding

As mentioned earlier, the Starry Blenny is an herbivore that needs algae in its diet to be healthy. Once acclimated to your tank, it may accept an easy meaty meal, if you’re feeding your other fishes brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, etc., but you will need to be sure they get plenty of algae in their diet, too, in order to meet their nutritional needs.

A boisterous blenny likely has a round belly and a thick or stout ‘build’. If your blenny is super shy and thin, it may be a sign that it is not getting enough to eat.

Even if there are natural algal films in the tank for your blenny to eat, it is best if you plan to deliberately feed prepared foods with a strong algal component, like Spirulina flakes, Formula Two Pellets, etc.,

Will the Starry Blenny eat hair algae?

Yes, the Starry Blenny will eat green hair algae. Don’t believe me, check this out:

Lifespan

It seems reasonable to expect the lifespan of a Starry Blenny to be anywhere from 0 to 6 years, happy, healthy, and well-fed in a home aquarium.

Behavior

It is a treat to watch the Snowflake Blenny in action. They love to perch on the live rock and hop and skip along,  taking big bites of algae or algal films. Othertimes, they will dive head first, torpedo-fashion, and relocate to a different corner of the tank.

Starry blenny on the move

Appearance

The Snowflake Blenny is a gorgeous Saltwater Fish. The pattern/appearance is similar to the Marine Betta, a dark black background with white dots all over the body that looks like a star-filled sky. On the tops of their heads, they have alien-like antennae, called cirri. Those appendages are thought to help sense water motion and help them avoid predation.

Note the cirri on top of the Snowflake blenny's head

Watch this short video

If you’re interested in learning more about the Snowflake Blenny, check out this short video:

What to read next

If you’re looking for other Saltwater Fish with a similar appearance to the Snowflake Blenny, you can check out:

If you’re looking for other Blennies, check out the three other great options:

If you’re fighting an algae problem, or want to be prepared in case you run into a problem, check out these helpful articles:

Conclusion

If you are looking for a functional saltwater fish to help you keep algae under control, a quirky and inexpensive community fish with lots of personality, or a fish with beautiful black and white coloration, the Starry Blenny is a great choice. Just be sure to have a tight-fitting lid, lots of live rock, and feed them algae-based foods.

References

Michael, Scott W. Marine Fishes: 500+ Essential-to-Know Aquarium Species. TFH Publications. Neptune City, NJ: 2001.

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