Matt Clarke looks at the Zebra blenny, Omobranchus zebra, a new species for the brackish tank.
Common name: Zebra blenny
Scientific name: Omobranchus zebra (Bleeker, 1868)
Origin: Museum records show that specimens have been collected from Thailand, India, New Caledonia and Malaysia. This fish is apparently also present in brackish waters around Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Size: The type specimens for O. zebra are about 4-6cm/2-3\" long.
Water: These fish were imported in slightly salty water and were doing well in a brackish aquarium.
Aquarium: I\'m not aware of any reports on keeping these in captivity, but the fish at the supplier\'s facility were doing well in a small brackish tank containing hard, alkaline water (pH 8 ish). The aquarium was furnished with bogwood, which was being used for shelter, and the fish were happily grubbing around in the silver sand substrate. They take most frozen foods, apparently.
Notes: This fish (originally in Petroscirtes) is a member of the Omobranchii subfamily (part of the Blennidae family) and occurs mainly in brackish waters, such as mangroves.
Identification: There are 24 other species in the Omobranchus genus. The real O. zebra has 12 dorsal spines and 18-20 segmented dorsal rays; two anal spines and 20-22 segmented rays. The head should make up more than 23.5% of the standard length. There should be 1-4 lateral tubes. The colour pattern of this species is quite distinctive, too.
Availability: This is probably a UK first. These were imported from India as Halidesmus thomaseni by wholesaler Tom Halvorsen Ltd (07977 098 127). After much research, I\'m 99.9% certain that the fish are actually Omobranchus zebra...
Price: Around 15-20 each.