Shanny ©Linda Pitkin/2020VISION


Scientific name: Lipophrys pholis
The shanny is a common sight in rockpools all around the UK. They are feisty little fish and have been known to bite when caught, so watch your fingers!

Species information


Length: up to 15cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The shanny is a kind of blenny and is also known by the name common blenny, depending on where in the UK you live. It is a small, elongated fish with a large head and big eyes. It is common in rockpools and shallow waters, but it pretty shy and normally hides under stones or seaweed. They are quite hard to spot when they are lying still as their mottled colouration provides excellent camouflage. They will eat whatever they can find, from seaweed to barnacles and shrimps. The shanny is sometimes known as the Sea Frog! They are able to survive out of water at low tide and, if disturbed, will leap back into the water - much like a frog does.

How to identify

Variable in colour, normally brown or beige with darker blotches. Males are almost black during the breeding season (April-August). They can be distinguished from the larger Tompot Blenny as they have no tentacles on their heads.


Found all around UK coasts.

Did you know?

It is the male shanny that guards the eggs! Once the female has laid the precious eggs, the father will guard them for over a month against hungry predators. During breeding and nesting, the male shanny's colouration darkens to almost black except for his lips which change to bright white.

How people can help

When rockpooling, be careful to leave everything as you found it - replace any seaweed you move out of the way, put back any crabs or fish and ensure not to scrape anything off its rocky home. If you want to learn more about our rockpool life, Wildlife Trusts around the UK run rockpool safaris and offer Shoresearch training - teaching you to survey your local rocky shore. The data collected is then used to protect our coasts and seas through better management or through the designation of Marine Protected Areas. The Wildlife Trusts are working with sea users, scientists, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or checking out our Action Pages.