The Sarcastic Fringehead -‘Not a Funny Fish!’

by, Jo Carol Hebert

Listen to the podcast on this Saltwater ‘Blenniiforme’ Fish.

You could have a nice ‘blenny’ in a 30-gallon saltwater aquarium at home. They come in pretty colors. They come with interesting names, like the ‘Lawnmower’ Blenny and the ‘Molly Miller’ Blenny. They are the best ‘algae-eaters’ to keep your aquarium clean. They are very energetic and entertaining, darting around and surprising you by popping in and out of favorite containers you have provided for shelter.

But, if their cousin, the Sarcastic Fringehead, comes to call, look out! 

Home, Sweet Home In a Soda Bottle

This type of ‘blenniiforme’, called a ‘tube-blenny’, was discovered in 1858 and is native to the Pacific coast of North America from California to Mexico. Like all types of ‘blennies’, they have no swim bladder. They must find food in the sandy bottoms of the shallow coastlines. 

They like to find abandoned homes of clams, snails, and discarded soda bottles. They can squiggle their little eel-like bodies into these empty containers. Only their gigantic heads and bulgy eyes stick out. Clever, but brutal, they lie in wait to ambush the next meal that swims by. 

“What Big Jaws You Have!”

Out for a casual Sunday swim, some little shrimp could be the next meal of a hungry or ‘just having a bad day’ Sarcastic Fringehead. Suddenly, the carefree crustacean is surprised to see the colorful flash of monstrous gaping jaws with rows of needle-sharp teeth. In the blink of an eye, ‘dinner is served’ and the fearless Sarcastic Fringehead scurries and burrows backwards into his tiny territorial container.

The Battle of the Big-Mouths

The layered flaps of lips of the Sarcastic Fringehead can stretch sideways, unhinging the jaws to extend four times the size of the original mouth. This gruesome grin is an effective defense ploy that makes this ‘blenny bully’ seem much larger than the rest of his slender, scaleless body.

This ‘gapping display’ also intimidates other Sarcastic Fringeheads from trying to rent his apartment container. The intruder and the ‘homeowner’ will stretch their mouths to their greatest extent. The ensuing ‘mouth wrestling’ contest may escalate to even touching lips to determine size. The ‘smaller-mouth’ loser will admit defeat and swim away humiliated and homeless.

Since females lay their eggs in the male’s container, the males are even more relentlessly aggressive until the eggs hatch. The miniscule (barely ⅓ -inch minnows) swim away from ‘Dad’ as fast as possible.

Did You Know?

  • Their favorite food is ‘squid’ eggs
  • The word ‘marine’ means ocean saltwater
  • Sarcastic is from Greek ‘sarkasmos’ to bite or tear’
  • Fringehead is for the ‘whisker-like’ projectiles above eyes called ‘cirri’
  • Fringeheads can be one foot long, but usually are 3-8 inches
  • They are brown-gray with red or green spots
  • They live up to 6 years
  • They will attack human underwater divers

Finally, Some Facts About Fish Fins

Yes. All fish with jaws have fins. Fish can be recognized by the shapes of their fins. 

What are fins for? 

  1. The Dorsal Fin across the back keeps the fish from ‘rolling over’. 
  2. The Caudal Fin is the tail for propelling along. 
  3. Pectoral Paired Fins on each side of the head are to steer. 
  4. Pelvic Paired Fins on front bottom are to make turns. 
  5. The Anal Fin on bottom back is to keep the fish stable and afloat.

Description of fins on a Sarcastic Fringehead

  • Dorsal back fin is long across the back from head to tail.
  • Caudal tail fin is round.
  • Pair of Pectoral fins are large on each side of the head.
  • Pelvic Paired fins are present, but small.
  • Anal fin across the bottom.

What is the most poisonous fish in the world?

Look for the answer coming up in your Smarty Pants Magazine for Kids. We Make Facts Fun!

Check out the pdf and don’t be afraid to take the True/False Quiz. . .

True or False? The Sarcastic Fringehead…

  1. Is a type of fish called a ‘blenny’ .
  2. Is a saltwater fish.
  3. Is a shy fish.
  4. Is native to the Atlantic Coast of North America.
  5. Is at home in a can.
  6. Is a fish with a small mouth.
  7. Is a fish with no scales.
  8. Can reach 10 feet long.
  9. Is a ‘marine’ animal.
  10. Makes a good pet.

How Did You Do?

10 out of 10 – You Can Open Your Mouth Wide With Pride!

5 to 9 – You are Blenniiforme-tastic!

1 to 4 – You Might Want to “Swim” Through Those Facts Again!

None Right – Hide in the Sand!

Categories: Fish

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