Tompot blenny

Tompot blenny

Scientific name: Parablennius gattorugine
This clown-like fish is a favourite amongst divers and snorkellers. They are inquisitive little souls and will investigate divers near their hidey-hole homes.

Species information


Length: up to 30cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The tompot blenny is a medium-sized, elongated fish with a large head and big eyes. It has distinctive frilly tentacles on the top of its head - for which it has been given the nickname "the fish with antlers"! They live in crevices in rocky reefs and are highly territorial - if you return to the same spot, you'll see the same fish in its hidey-hole. They live in shallow seas, but small tompot blennies are occasionally spotted in rockpools. They have sharp teeth and feed on animals on the seabed like sea anemones.

How to identify

The largest British blenny. It is orangey-brown in colour, sometimes greenish, with mottled markings and several darker bars running down the body. It has two large branched tentacles on its head that look a bit like antlers.


Found around the south and west coasts of the UK. Mostly absent in the North Sea.

Did you know?

It is the male tompot blenny that guards the eggs! The males spring clean their crevices, removing any mud and unwanted barnacles that might have settled over the winter. The best crevices attract the best females and once the female has laid the precious eggs, the father will fertilise them and then guard them for over a month against hungry predators. During the breeding season, enlarged glands are visible on the males belly - these are used to release pheromones to attract females.

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.