Ocellated Dragonet

Synchiropus ocellatus

General: The ocellated dragonet (Synchiropus ocellatus, Pallas, 1770), also called the scooter blenny, is a unique saltwater fish. Along with the popular mandarin species, they belong to the dragonet family (Callionymidae). Members of the dragonet family do not swim freely through the water but rather “scoot” along the bottom, picking at rock and substrate in-search of food. Scooter blennies, while simple in coloration, have comical personalities and an active behavior that makes them a favorite among hobbyists. Having a wide range throughout the Western Pacific, these fish are fairly common in the aquarium; however, they have a reputation as being difficult to maintain. Dragonets have a specialized diet. The most common problem hobbyists have is in transitioning these fish to prepared foods. At the Sustainable Islands project, we take the time to transition these fish from live foods to cyclopeeze, spirulina brine, and mysis. Some will even learn to eat our hatchery diet, however because they will not swim to the surface to eat, it is better to soak the pellets in water and then squirt the food into the tank with a pipette so it will sink to the bottom. Scooter blennies will still spend their days moving about their tank looking for small invertebrates to eat. They do best in a fairly large system with plenty of live rock and sand. These fish have very thick slime coats and are generally resistant to disease.

Physical Description: Scooter blennies vary in color with splotches of yellow, brown, black, white, and even red. They can change their color slightly to blend into their environment or when stressed. These fish are small, reaching only two and a half inches in length, with broad faces, raised eyes, and tiny mouths which are used to pick copepods from rock and sand. They have large, flashy dorsal fins which they normally keep tucked close to their bodies unless they are displaying for mating or to defend their territory. Males are larger than females and have larger dorsal fins.

Temperament: Scooter blennies are very peaceful except with others of their species. They prefer to be kept singly, however they may tolerate small groups with one male and a few females. Very large, aggressive tank mates should be avoided, as the slow moving dragonet may end up as food.

Size: These fish grow to a length of 2.5 inches, with males being slightly larger than females.

Distribution: Scooter blennies are found throughout the Eastern Indian Ocean to the Western Pacific.