Blackback Snake Blenny

Ophiclinus Gracilis
Blackback Snake Blenny - Marinewise © 2024 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Ophiclinus Gracilis
Other names Dark Backed Snake Blenny
Size Up to 10 cm (3.93 in)
Weight A few grams


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters amongst silty areas of decomposing seagrass & weed
Depth Range 1 - 20 m (65 ft)
Blackback Snake Blenny Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Blackback Snake Blenny can be found along the southern coast, from southern Western Australia, South Australia, to Victoria and the coastal waters of Tasmania.
  • They have has a slender and elongated body which features a distinct black band that runs along its back, which gives it its common name. The rest of its body is usually light brown or olive in coloration.
  • They are primarily herbivorous, feeding on small marine algae and plant material. They scrape algae off rocks and consume it as a significant part of their diet. They may also feed on small invertebrates and organic detritus found within their habitat.
  • These blennies are known for their secretive behaviour and excellent camouflage, often blending in with their surroundings to avoid detection by predators or potential prey.
  • The Blackback Snake Blenny possesses a unique adaptation called “cryptic coloration,” which helps it blend in with its environment. This coloration allows them to hide from predators and ambush prey more effectively.
  • These blennies are well adapted to their rocky habitat and possess strong pelvic fins that help them grip onto surfaces, allowing them to navigate and manoeuvre in the challenging underwater environment.
  • During the breeding season, male Blackback Snake Blennies may display territorial behaviour, defending their chosen nesting sites and engaging in courtship displays to attract females.
  • Female Blackback Snake Blennies lay adhesive eggs in hidden crevices or under rocks to protect them from predators. The males typically guard the eggs until they hatch, ensuring their survival.
  • They have an estimate lifespan between 4 – 6 years.
Species Interaction

Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

Blackback Snake Blenny may occasionally be kept in home aquariums, it requires specialised care and is not commonly available in the aquarium trade. Observing Blackback Snake Blennies in the wild can be an exciting experience for snorkelers and divers. They are often seen darting among rocks and vegetation, displaying their agility and camouflage abilities. However, their small size and cryptic coloration make them somewhat challenging to spot.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Blenniidae

Genus: Ophiclinus

Species: Ophiclinus Gracilis

Conservation Status

The Blackback Snake Blenny is not listed as a threatened species in Australia. Its conservation status is currently classified as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Blackback Snake Blenny
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate to difficult

Temperament: Shy

Diet: Herbivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 40 gallons

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Difficult

Temperament: Shy

Location: Inner Reef, Outer Reef, Caves, Lagoon, Seagrass Beds

Danger: None