Introducing Delilah – the Newest Dragon(et) on the Reef

Synchiropus ocellatus  – the “Ocellated dragonet” (or “Scooter Blenny”) is one of my favorite marine fish.

16B15 Elvis and Ripley


In the wild, they exist on a diet of live copepods (a type of tiny crustacean), but they often starve to death in captivity due to the lack of live ‘pods in captive reefs.

Fortunately, dragonets are smart, and I’ve had great success converting mine to a diet of frozen mysis. Not only is this far easier to provide than live copepods, it’s more nutritious – leading to much happier, chubbier “scooters.”

About six months ago, I rescued a starving male dragonet from the local reef store. His starvation was not the store’s fault–they received him already emaciated and nearly dead. Knowing I had an abundance of live copepods in my reef (because the species that would have preyed on them all now prefer frozen food) I took him home and hoped he would survive.


My son named the little guy “Elvis” — on the theory that he was such a skinny little Elvis at the time, but hopefully he’d grow into “Fat Elvis” as time went on.

Fortunately, that’s precisely what happened:

16E31 Elvis

A couple of months ago, not-so-little Elvis began a nightly ritual: swimming back and forth, up and down, along the surface of the water. He did it for hours on end, starting just after sunset and continuing until the tank lights went out for the night. After a little research, I realized he was trying to find a mate; in the wild, male blennies “dance” near the surface to advertise their availability to females in the area. 

Unfortunately for Elvis, no female was going to wander into his territory looking for a mate.

At least, not without help.

Last weekend, while visiting the fish store, I noticed a lovely little black and white ocellated dragonet . . . a female.

16E31 Delilah acclimatizing


She a spunky look and nice energy, and I decided to bring her home as a gift for poor, lonely Elvis.

He fell in love immediately.

16E30 Delilah


She isn’t quite old enough to mate, which frustrated Elvis a bit at the outset, but several days in they’re happily cohabiting on the reef, and I have no doubt that–as soon as she’s able–they’ll start behaving like a mated pair.

Given that his name is Elvis, a lot of people expected me to name the little girl “Priscilla” — but as it turns out, Delilah fits much better. Not only did she realize from moment 1 that she had “the king” wrapped snugly around her tiny fins, but she seems to take pleasure in showing him that she’s the one who’s truly in charge of the reef.

16E30 Delilah 3

Have you seen ocellated dragonets/scooter blennies, in the wild or on a reef?