Sarcastic Fringehead - Oceana

Ocean Fishes

Sarcastic Fringehead

Neoclinus Blanchardi


Temperate latitudes of the northeast Pacific Ocean


Rocky reefs and nearby soft bottoms

Feeding Habits

Foraging predator


Order Blenniiformes (blennies), Family Chaenopsidae (tube blennies)


Female sarcastic fringeheads, like all tube blennies, lay their eggs in a males’ shelter, and the males protect them from potential predators and other threats until they hatch. This sexual selection by females drives a system of intense male competition and territoriality. Male sarcastic fringeheads display to each other by opening their very large mouths in the direction of their rivals. The mouth’s intimidating coloration, combined with the extreme nature of it size (which may be as much as four times its closed size) allow the larger male to establish dominance over the smaller. Oftentimes, the rivals’ mouths are thrust very near to each other, sometimes touching. The smaller individual typically surrenders and leaves the area, without the pair actually fighting.

Little is known about the feeding habits of the sarcastic fringehead, but scientists expect that the grossly oversized mouths of the males may negatively affect their ability to feed. Most tube blennies feed on very small planktonic prey, but this species is unable to suction feed. They likely eat a variety of prey. During squid spawning season, sarcastic fringeheads can be observed eating large numbers of squid eggs, a valuable food source for many species.

The sarcastic fringehead is not targeted by fisheries and is not accidentally captured in fisheries targeting other species. Scientists believe this species to be one of least concern – it is not currently at risk of extinction.

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Additional Resources:

IUCN Red List