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Scooter Blenny (Synchiropus ocellatus), despite the name, is not a true blenny. A member of the Dragonet group, this fish originates in the Indo-Pacific from southern Japan to Fiji. A well behaved tank member, this species is reef safe and prized for its nearly constant activity. Scooter Blenny’s will “scoot”–hence the name–around the deep live sand beds they prefer.
Scooter Blenny Care
Like other Dragonets, Scooter Blennys can be difficult to care for and feed. They prefer live food and take prepared food with difficulty. If you plan on keeping this species, best results will come from having a refugium to serve as a nursery to the copepods and other microfauna they use as food sources.
Scooter Blennys prefer water temperatures between 72 – 78 °F (22 – 26 °C).
Your Scooter Blenny will need water with 7.7 – 8.3 pH.
Scooter Blenny Size
Scooter Blennys don’t grow beyond 5 inches in an aquarium. They are small enough to be under threat from hungry fish. This is true in the wild and in a tank. Plan for enough hiding places for when your Scooters are spooked. They will also hide by burying themselves in sand, both when they are spooked and when sleeping. A deep live sand bed is highly recommended for this species.
Food & Diet
Scooter Blenny are notoriously picky eaters. Live feeding with copepods and other microfauna is ideal. They can sometimes be coaxed to eat frozen mysis or other prepared foods. Doing so requires a regular schedule and hand feeding feeding with a target feeder or other suitable tool. Once they take prepared food in this manner look for them to start pecking at the sand, this is the best time to try regular feeding with frozen mysis shrimp. Eventually, and with enough coaxing, you may be able to wean your Scooters to prepared foods. Feeding tip: when trying to get your fish to take food, turn off your pumps. This can sometimes encourage them to bite, and should only be needed during the early stages of acclimatizing them to prepared foods.
Getting them to eat enough can be a problem. Scooter Blennys are known to go on “hunger strikes” in captivity. If they start this, it is best that they are already well-fed as possible to prevent starvation until their mood changes. There isn’t much you can do about hunger strikes aside from ensuring a steady supply of food for when they feel like eating.
If prepared food weaning sounds like too much work, then you should consider setting up a refugium. An external tank or sump, a refugium can serve as a nursery to copepods and other microfauna. This will protect them until they are grow large enough to spill over to your main tank to be eaten by your Scooters or other fish. A refugium is the ideal way to ensure your Scooter Blennys, and other Dragonets, have enough live food to stay happy and healthy.
How to tell if your Scooter Blenny is eating? You should see them pecking around on the sand and live rock in your tank. Hunger strikes are usually obvious: they will sit in one area of the tank doing nothing.
Scooter Blennys are hard to care for fish. They usually won’t make it past 2 years in an aquarium. Increase their lifespan as much as possible by making sure they have a deep live sand bed and constant supply of live food. Using a refugium can be a big help when keeping this species.
Scooter Blenny Tank Size
Scooter Blenny need a minimum tank size of 30 gallons. 50 gallons or larger is recommended. A 50 gallon tank should support one male and two females. If you plan on keeping multiple males you will need a much larger tank and many rock overhangs and hiding spots will be needed.
Your Scooter Blennys will need a tank with live rock and a deep live sand bed. Consider setting up a refugium for a constant supply of food such as copepods. Scooter Blennys do best in established tanks. New tanks won’t have the microfauna diversity to support this species. Six months is the minimum time before a new tank can support Scooters or other species who rely on live foods and high amounts of biodiversity. Also know that this species will jump, so have an appropriate cover for your tank.
Scooter Blennys need deep beds of live sand in addition to live rock. Not only a source for grazing food, they will bury themselves in sand to hide and when sleeping. Their habit of sleeping in sand is one way Scooters keep themselves parasite free.
If you’re setting up a new tank, consider where your sand is getting its seeding of microorganisms. Often a few live rocks will provide enough beneficial microfauna to get your sand started. Some people will seed new tanks with a mix of phytoplankton, copepods and Chaeto algae. This can be a good way to build enough microfauna population in your tank to support Scooters and other live food loving fish.
Strongly consider setting up a refugium. A refugium can serve the same functions as a sump. A second connected tank with lighting, a refugium can be a great place to cultivate beneficial algae and other microfauna. Refugium starter kits are available with the required media, bacteria and microfauna cultures.
Are Scooter Blenny Reef Safe?
Scooter Blenny are reef safe. Since they only eat small microorganisms, other species in your tank will be safe.
Scooter Blenny Breeding
Scooter Blenny can be challenging to breed in captivity. Water conditions have to be nearly perfect and food should be plentiful. Ensure you water’s ammonia, nitrate and nitrite are all at 0ppm when trying to breed this species.
Spawning occurs during sunset, this can be duplicated in your tank by turning the lights off. The pair will start their courtship on the sand bed. Linking fins, the pair will swim up to the surface. Once at the surface they will split up and go back to the sand bed. On the final pass, they will release eggs and sperm.
Now the challenge begins. The eggs are a tasty treat for many fish so they’ll need to be scooped up and moved to another tank where they and the hatched fry will be safe. In nature, Scooter Blenny eggs are carried with currents until they hatch. You will need a special tank to reproduce these conditions: a kreisel aquarium. Kreisel aquariums have a circular section in the center to allow circular water flow. Often they are used to display jellyfish or tend delicate specimens which are accustomed to currents in the open ocean.
The eggs will hatch 12 to 16 hours later. The fry will finish absorbing their yolks 36 hours after hatching. First foods will need to be extremely small. Try plankton powder fry food and newly hatched brine and misys shrimp. Water changes will need to be large and frequent: usually 1/3 to ½ of the tank per day. It is critical not to let the water become fouled.
Once the fry reach 1 inch you can introduce them into a community tank without predators. If you have a community tank that includes hungry carnivores, it may be best to wait until they reach 2 inches.
How to tell the difference between male or female Scooter Blenny
The Scooter Blenny males have a large front dorsal fin. The female’s dorsal fin is much smaller. These differences aren’t obvious until the fish approach maturity. Sexing is difficult when young.
Scooter Blenny Disease
Scooter Blennys are resistant to some parasites and common diseases like ich. However they are sensitive to many medications, including copper, so can be difficult to treat when they do get sick. Make sure you have a quarantine tank (QT) ready for any infected Scooters. Because they are so sensitive to copper this can’t be a QT where copper based medicine has been used.
Scooter Blenny Tank Mates
Scooter Blennys are well behaved tank inhabitants and will only have problems with other Scooters. Males will fight other males but they will leave most other tank inhabitants alone. Scooters are usually victims so choose tank mates for them with this in mind. Let’s look as some possible pairings.
Scooter Blenny and Mandarin
Scooter Blenny and Mandarins will get along but they eat the same foods: copepods and microfauna. Make sure your tank and optional refugium can produce enough microfauna for your fish load.
Scooter Blenny and Lawnmower Blenny
Scooter Blenny and Lawnmower Blenny should be good tank mates. Each eats different foods so they won’t be in competition.
Scooter Blenny and Green Blenny
The Green Blenny forages and accepts prepared foods. They are also not aggressive and should be a good match for Scooter Blenny.
Scooter Blenny and Watchman Goby
Dragonets like the Scooter Blenny are compatible with Gobies. A Watchman Goby should be a good tank mate.
Scooter Blenny and Clownfish
Clownfish will eat Scooter Blennys smaller than 2 inches. The may even attack larger specimens so you’ll need to be cautious when trying this tank pairing.
Scooter Blenny and Six Line Wrasse
Six Line Wrasse can be an aggressive species and they are difficult to pair with tank mates. Scooter Blenny could be attacked by this species so it may not be a good pairing. If attempting a tank pairing make sure your Scooter has a deep live sand bed and many hiding spaces.
Where can I find Scooter Blenny for sale?
Scooter Blenny can be bought online and in aquarium stores. They usually cost less than $30 USD. If you are looking for a Scooter Blenny that will eat prepared foods, buying one in a store allows you to verify they are accustomed to tank foods.
Scooter Blenny vs Red Scooter Blenny
Scooter Blenny (Synchiropus ocellatus) and Red Scooter Blenny (Synchirous stellatus) are quite similar, and they are both considered to be Dragonets. Red Scooter Blenny have distinct red coloration. While both Dragonets have the same diet, Red Scooter Blenny are reported to be even less willing to eat prepared foods. Ensure a good supply of microfauna for either of these species.