The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Hypsoblennius invemar
Hypsoblennius invemar
(Tessellated Blenny)
Marine Fishes

Copyright Info
Hypsoblennius invemar Smith-Vaniz and Acero P. in Smith-Vaniz, 1980

Common name: Tessellated Blenny

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Dorsal fin XI-XII (12-13).  Anal fin II (13-14).  Numerous orange or brick-colored spots (smaller than the eye) cover most of the head, pectoral-fin base and anterior body over a bright blue background.  The spots often merge on the top of the head to form a reticulated pattern (Smith-Vaniz 1980; Hoese and Moore 1998).

Smith-Vaniz (1980) revised the western Atlantic Hypsoblennius.  A key to the Blenniidae of the western central Atlantic is given in Williams (2002); this key was modified for the Gulf of Mexico by McEachran and Fechhelm (2005).  Gulf species can also be keyed with Hoese and Moore (1998).  Meristics for adults and larvae were given by Ditty et al. (2005). Larvae of five common Gulf of Mexico species are described and illustrated in Ditty et al. (2005).

Size: To 5 cm (Hoese and Moore 1998)

Native Range: Lesser Antilles, Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil.  Possibly native to the north Gulf of Mexico, but generally thought to be introduced.

Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: Established in the north Gulf of Mexico, including Alabama, Texas and Louisiana. Inhabits the tests of barnacles on oil platforms from Cameron, LA to south Texas (Hoese and Moore 1998) and off Dauphin Island, AL (Ditty et al. 2005). First documented from oil platforms off Cameron, LA and Galveston, TX in 1979; not present at Galveston before 1979 (Dennis and Bright 1988).  In Florida, this species has been observed off Palm Beach (since 1992 [P. Humann, pers. comm.]), off Pompano Beach (in 2001 [REEF2008]), near Key West (in 2001, 2003 and 2006 [REEF 2008]) near Boca Grande (in 2002 and 2004 [REEF 2008]), and in Biscanyne National Park (in 2005 and 2006 [REEF 2008]).

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Hypsoblennius invemar are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AL199820021Northern Gulf of Mexico
FL199220186Charlotte Harbor; Florida Bay-Florida Keys; Florida Southeast Coast; Floridian; Northern Gulf of Mexico; Pensacola Bay
LA198819992Lower Calcasieu; Northern Gulf of Mexico
TX197920071Northern Gulf of Mexico

Table last updated 7/13/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: The species lives in empty barnacle tests of the Mediterranean barnacle (Megabalanus antillensis [= Balanus tintinnabulum]) on pilings and oil platforms. It is usually recorded from a depths of less than 4.5 m, but can rarely range to 18 m (Topolski and Szedlmayer 2004). Tessellated blennies are found in abundance where the hydroid Cnidoscyphus marginatus is abundant (Smith-Vaniz 1980).  Males brood egg masses inside the barnacles (Smith-Vaniz 1980).

Work by Rauch (2000, 2003) has indicated that blenniid assemblages on petroleum platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are highly structured (through competition) and that little change occurs over time. Additionally, blenniid assemblages appear to remain relatively constant, even after the passage of a hurricane over the platforms (Rauch 2000, 2003).

Means of Introduction: Possibly introduced through shipping (either on barnacles attached to hulls or in ballast) or transport of oil rigs from South America. The nonindigenous status of the tessellated blenny is unclear.  While some consider it a recent introduction, it is possible that it was present in earlier surveys but was overlooked.

Status: Established in the north Gulf of Mexico.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

Remarks: The Smithsonian (USNM) holds specimens from oil platforms off Louisiana from studies by Dennis et al. (1979) and Rauch (2000).  Specimens from the native range have been deposited at the USNM and the Florida Museum of Natural History.

References: (click for full references)

Dennis, G. D., III and T. J. Bright.  1988.  New records of fishes in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, with notes on some rare species.  Northeast Gulf Science 10: 1-18.

Ditty, J. G., R. F. Shaw and L. A. Fuiman.  2005.  Larval development of five species of blenny (Teleostei: Blenniidae) from the western central North Atlantic, with a synopsis of blennioid family characters.  Journal of Fish Biology 66: 1261-1284.

Hoese, H. D. and R. H. Moore.  1998.  Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico.  Texas, Louisiana, and Adjacent Waters.  2nd Edition.  Texas A & M University Press, College Station, TX.

McEachran, J. D. and J. D. Fechhelm.  2005.  Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico.  Volume 2: Scorpaeniformes to Tetraodontiformes.  University of Texas Press, Austin, TX.

Rauch, T. J.  2000.  Blennies on offshore petroleum platforms in the Gulf of Mexico: Factors influencing assemblage structure. Ph.D. dissertation.  Department of Biological Sciences,  University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS.  101 pp. 

Rauch, T. J.  2003.  Equilibrial blenniid assemblages on offshore petroleum platforms.  Environmental Biology of Fishes 68: 301-305.

Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF).  2008.  Exotic species sighting programs and volunteer database. World wide web electronic publication. www.reef.org, date of download March 10, 2008.

Smith-Vaniz, W. F.  1980.  Revision of Western Atlantic species of the Blenniid fish genus Hypsoblennius.  Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Science, Philadelphia 132: 285-305.

Topolski, M. F. and S. T. Szedlmayer.  2004.  Vertical distribution, size structure, and habitat associations of four Blenniidae species on gas platforms in the northcentral Gulf of Mexico.  Environmental Biology of Fishes 70: 193-201.

Williams, J. T.  2002.  Blenniidae.  Pages 1768 – 1772 in: Carpenter, Kent E., (Ed.).  The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Atlantic.  Volume 3.  Bony fishes part 2 (Opistognathidae to Molidae), sea turtles and marine mammals.  FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes.  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation, Rome.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Schofield, P.J.

Revision Date: 9/16/2020

Peer Review Date: 2/2/2015

Citation Information:
Schofield, P.J., 2024, Hypsoblennius invemar Smith-Vaniz and Acero P. in Smith-Vaniz, 1980: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=2638, Revision Date: 9/16/2020, Peer Review Date: 2/2/2015, Access Date: 7/13/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [7/13/2024].

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