Gobies, Blennies, & Dragonets0
Gobies, Blennies, & Dragonets share many characteristics. They are small, bottom-dwelling, mostly carnivorous fishes that can be found in virtually every niche and habitat type in temperate and tropical seas worldwide.
Gobies comprise the largest known family of tropical fishes. They can be distinguished from Blennies and Dragonets by the absence of a gas bladder and the presence of a suction cup (formed by fused pelvic fins) that they use to attach themselves to rocks and other surfaces. Most Gobies are smaller than 4 inches in length and are brilliantly colored. They spend their time resting on the bottom near holes or crevices.
Some species (like Dart fishes and Worm fishes) hover just inches above the sand or reef, ready to dart to a safe hiding place when threatened. Some species provide parasite cleaning services for larger fishes (Neon Gobies), and other species have developed symbiotic relationships with various invertebrates including sponges, corals, sea urchins, and burrowing shrimps. A few specoed excavet subterranean dwellings, however a large number of species known as shrimp gobies survive by sharing burrows with snapping shrimps from genus Alpheus.
The nearly blind shrimps need the sharp eyed gobies to warn of danger while the gobies need a ready made place to hide. Through out the day the shrimps industriously maintain extensive winding tunnels connecting two or three large chambers by continually hauling dirt up from below. While the shrimps toil the gobis perch near the burrow openings acting as sentinals, except now and again when they dart a few inchecs away to grab a mouthful of sand that they filter for food.When the shrimps apper above ground they nearly always keep at least one antenna in contact with the gobies bodies usually near their tails. Warning signals range from a slight tail twitch, indicating caution, to a thrash for alarm, Once the alarm is given, the time it takes for the duo to disappear can be measured in tenths of a second.
Blennies are blunt headed, elongate fishes with big eyes and strong pelvic fins that they use to perch on rocks and coral branches to look at their surroundings. Their most distinguishing features are the hair-like growths above the eyes, called cirri, that resemble small clumps of algae and are thought to help with camouflage.
Several Blennies are strikingly marked but most have subdued tones that allow them to blend into their surroundings. Believed to be among the most intelligent of fishes, they are relatively fearless, constantly active, and their large, upturned mouths mimic what some would describe as a “cheerful” smile. Most are ferocious hunters but a few species are omnivores and eat algae.
Dragonets are often called “Blennies” or “Gobies”; however, this is inaccurate since they are in a family of their own. These fishes have large lips, large eyes, and diminutive gill openings protected by a spiny “cheekbone” protrusion. Some species are flamboyantly colored while others are patterned to blend into their surroundings. Dragonets spend most of their time scooting around shallow tidal areas or the base of coral reefs feeding on tiny crustaceans like copepods.
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