Among blennies the genus Ecsenius includes some of the most colorful, personable and aquarium-suitable species. Species like Midas and Bicolor blennies are part of the mainstay of marine aquarium fishes while others like Ecsenius pictus, Ecsenius tigris and Ecsenius oculus are among the more seldom yet equally captivating members of this adorable group of nano reef fish.
Today we’d like to introduce you to another species, Ecsenius bathi, which was a constant companion throughout our diving during the Fluval Sea Flores Expedition. Bath’s comb-blenny, as Ecsenius bathi is also called, is a colorful little fish which has two recognized color forms.
The orange color form of E. bathi is white with two longitudinal orange stripes stripes that are bisected by vertical stripes creating an attractive orange checkered pattern. This is the more frequently encountered form of this species which also happens to have white facial and eye stripes.
The other form of Ecsenius bathi has yellow head stripes while the body is slightly grey with three long thin black lines running down the length of the body. This darker color form of Bath’s comb-blenny is usually observed at a much smaller size than its orange counterpart – small specimens of the orange E. bathi can be seen but not larger specimens of the darker color form.
Both forms of Ecsenius bathi are relatively common around Flores and Komodo Islands but we never once saw the two color forms interacting. With other species of Ecsenius being highly variable in color and appearance we have to trust that ichthyologists have their reasons for lumping both color forms of E bathi into a single species but we also wouldn’t be surprised if further investigation led to a new species or subspecies.
It’s odd that while Ecsenius bathi is a well-distributed species throughout Indonesia, there are no records of this species being available in aquariums. Like all related species of Ecsenius, Bath’s comb blenny is a neat little reef fish which would fit right in to a East Indies, Flores Sea or Komodo Reef habitat or biotope aquarium.