The Ecsenius pulcher, also known as the gulf blenny, got its name from having the same color pattern as Pulcheria, the Roman emperor’s daughter. This blenny hails from areas of Japan and East Asia and was only recently discovered and recognized by the scientific community in the early 2000s. It’s now one of the most popular species among aquarists, who appreciate its beauty and interesting personality quirks.
The gulf blenny, is a colorful species that can easily be differentiated from other blennies by its black and yellow tail. The Ecsenius pulcher can also grow up to 2 inches in length, which makes it an excellent candidate for aquariums with larger fish, as well as being suitable for nano reef tanks.
Ecsenius pulcher is among the most commonly found Ecsenius species in the aquarium trade and in marine fish stores that carry saltwater fish. This fish may not be as hardy as some of its counterparts, but given proper care, it can be one of the most beautiful additions to your marine aquarium!
Origin and description
The Ecsenius pulcher is a small fish, sometimes referred to as a pink-tongued blenny due to its pink mouth and tongue. The fish is generally bright purple with lighter stripes or patches covering their head and body. They vary in size from 2 inches to 4 inches long and should be housed in a 30-gallon tank.
Although these fish are often considered reef safe, there have been reports of them picking at corals and removing dead tissue from other fish. If you want to house your Ecsenius pulcher with coral, they must only be housed with fleshy soft corals that they cannot damage.
These include mushroom leathers and zoanthids; hard stony corals such as mushrooms will certainly perish if kept alongside an Ecsenius pulcher. This species of blenny has bioluminescent organs located on its tail base which it uses to lure prey into traps that it creates by moving sand around in an effort to uncover food items under rock piles and other structures.
The Ecsenius pulcher is a member of the blenniidae family and also goes by various names including The Yellow-finned Blenny, The Yellowtail Fangblenny, and simply The Gulf Blenny. It gets its common name from its resemblance to another blennioid fish, alestopetersius caudalis which was once thought to be part of a different species altogether.
This particular fish has not been kept in captivity as often as some other species within its genus (Ecsenius), but it certainly deserves more attention than it has gotten in recent years.
Within my own experience caring for them, they have proven themselves to be quite easy keepers making them great candidates for aquariums of all sizes including nano tanks; with that said, they are incredibly active swimmers so make sure your tank space allows them room to swim.
The Ecsenius genus of blennies are commonly found in shallow reef areas that have varying amounts of rocks and coral. These fish will be quite shy when kept in an aquarium but with continued care can become quite docile.
Ideally, a reef tank environment is best for these fish as they will feed on corals as well as small crustaceans and worms. If housed in proper conditions, these fish can survive up to 15 years or more, so make sure you plan ahead before making one of these pets a part of your home aquarium.
Ecsenius pulcher size
They have an average size of 4 inches (10.16cm) – The small size of Ecsenius pulcher makes it ideal for a reef aquarium with smaller fish, where it will serve as both a useful algae grazer and beautiful centerpiece. This blenny will also thrive in reef aquariums housing larger fish with no problems, but other large herbivores may outcompete Ecsenius for space or food.
Ecsenius pulcher tank size
The minimum recommended tank size is 40 gallons (150L) while 90 gallons (360L) or larger is suggested.
Ecsenius pulcher tank set up
The Ecsenius pulcher tank should be set up much like a typical marine fish tank, but with a few minor differences. Because these fish are primarily herbivores, there is no need for a strong protein skimmer or massive amounts of live rock.
A well-maintained sand bed is necessary as these fish bury themselves when they sleep and graze on algae within their burrows. I do recommend having some large rocks in your tank to create crevices that will allow you to hide any invertebrates you may want to keep in your aquarium; small crabs, shrimps, and worms all make great additions to an Ecsenius pulcher aquarium.
While you can house more than one blenny per aquarium, I do not recommend it unless your tank is at least 75 gallons as these animals tend to fight heavily with one another if kept together in too small of an environment.
Gulf blenny tank mates
Ecsenius pulcher has a reputation for being a bit territorial, particularly when it’s still new to an aquarium. This makes it difficult to pair with other fish in a small tank. If you want multiple blennies, make sure they have enough room and don’t put them together until they are both used to their new surroundings.
Generally speaking, blennies are okay with peaceful bottom dwellers, as long as they aren’t immediately next door; your ecsenius will probably tolerate scooters or gobies, but not tangs or triggers.
Some ecsenius have been known to harass shrimp if given half a chance, so avoid that combination if possible. Smaller dwarf angelfish, Clownfish, Wrasse, Damsels, and Filefish may be compatible companions.
Ecsenius pulcher breeding
Ecsenius pulcher can be bred in captivity. To breed them, a large tank with many hiding places and live rock is necessary. They should be conditioned with plenty of live meaty foods in preparation for breeding. It may take several months to get them to pair up if they are not already paired.
If they are too aggressive towards each other, it can be hard to get them to breed so keeping a ratio of males and females can help prevent aggression during courtship. Once eggs have been deposited into a cave or crevice, parental care will begin (though not as involved as some other blennies).
Eggs hatch about two weeks after being laid. Fry can be fed newly hatched baby brine shrimp or rotifers until they start eating larger food items such as mysis shrimp and crushed flake food.
Is Ecsenius pulcher aggressive or peaceful?
Gulf blennies are a relatively peaceful addition to any saltwater aquarium with other fish species or invertebrates. Do your research before adding them to an established tank, however.
Some groups of blennies are particularly territorial and may bully or chase other tankmates. Also, like most marine fish, ecsenius pulcher is intolerant of poor water quality and low oxygen levels and should not be added to a non-cycled or unstable tank.
Ecsenius pulcher care
The Gulf blenny is moderately easy to care for. It prefers a sandy substrate, and isn’t particularly picky about its diet. In fact, these fish will pretty much eat anything you put in front of them: flake food, frozen or live brine shrimp, or Mysis shrimp (be sure they are small enough to fit into their mouths!), pellet foods, etc.
They can be kept in smaller quarters than many other blennies; a 20-gallon tank with four or five other fish would be more than sufficient for one ecsenius pulcher pair.
Ecsenius pulcher diet
Ecsenius pulcher is a carnivore. In nature, they feed on small crustaceans and other small invertebrates. In captivity, blennies readily accept flake foods as well as frozen preparations for carnivores. If feeding lives or frozen food, it should be appropriately sized for your fish (e.g., sufficiently small so that it will not damage their mouth) and should not have any sharp edges or spines that could harm them.
Coral-banded shrimp is a good example of a suitable prepared food. Feeding blennies crushed seafood-based and veggie-based frozen preparations can provide another nutritious, varied diet. Once acclimated to aquarium life and properly fed, an adult Ecsenius pulcher can be maintained on as little as one medium prawn per week supplemented with algae wafers; some aquarists prefer to supplement these meals with fresh veggies too.
Ecsenius pulcher is a brackish water fish that requires specific conditions to thrive. They are found in waters ranging from very hard to moderately hard, at specific salinity levels between 30 and 35ppt (parts per thousand). The pH should be above 8 but no higher than 9.5.
There also needs to be large quantities of oxygen dissolved in their tank’s water. Any sudden change in any one of these parameters can cause major harm or even death to Ecsenius pulcher if they are not slowly acclimated over time with regular maintenance testing.
It is important to maintain stable parameters as much as possible. If your parameter levels are too low or high, you could experience harm to your pet before you notice it because of its innate ability to regulate its own environment using biological processes such as osmoregulation and gill selection for respiration.
Ecsenius pulcher lifespan
The lifespan of Ecsenius pulcher is typically around 10 years with proper care. The oldest recorded Ecsenius pulcher was 12 years old. This fish is known to be very long-lived and may easily live into double digits with appropriate care.
Parasites and diseases
Ecsenius Pulcher (Gulf Blenny) is generally a healthy fish, but they are vulnerable to a few diseases and can contract some parasites. These are usually contracted through new tank mates, poor water quality, or environmental factors.
Treating with a preventative such as Prazi-Pro will keep them safe. Always quarantine new arrivals before introducing them into your main tank. You should treat newly purchased fish for at least two weeks before introducing them into your display tank.
If you have an established tank with live rock, it’s unlikely you’ll need treatment in most cases. However, heavy infestations of Cryptocaryon irritans might require additional treatments of Metronidazole or other nitroimidazoles medications that can be used in reef tanks.
Like all blennies, Ecsenius pulcher is at risk from fish and other aquarium predators. Even smaller blennies are capable of biting a large predator in self-defense, but they do not have heavy armor to help protect them. As with all reef aquarium fishes, adding hiding places for small or reclusive species will reduce their risk of predation. Large crabs are capable of killing Ecsenius pulcher, as are some aggressive corals and anemones.
Do they make good pets?
Ecsenius pulcher is a great choice for people who want to keep a blenny fish in their saltwater aquariums. They are reef-safe and easy to care for, which makes them great beginner fish. Once acclimated to your tank, these small fish will be active and fun to watch as they dart about looking for food. Though they will eat most prepared foods, they prefer live foods including brine shrimp and Mysis shrimp.