Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Lipophrys pholis


Shanny, Lipophrys pholisShanny, Lipophrys pholis
Photos by Andy Rapson


Lipophrys: Greek, lipos = fat + Greek, ophrys = eyebow

General Notes:

Shanny's are quite long lived fish capable of living for a decade in the wild they are very hardy adaptable fish and should be equally long lived in the aquarium. Shanny's are an ideal species for the aquarium because they are active through out the day, they don't grow too large and they are very adaptable to a wide range of conditions.

Shanny's are resident in rock pools all the year round, in the S W of England in summer they will be in rock pools which are exposed to the sun for several hours twice daily where the temperature will reach in to the the 30'sC. These fish are well adapted to living in these conditions and do not require a cooler.

Their aquarium should be quite spacious with a sandy substrate and with lots of stone with nooks and crannies to hide in. Seaweed for decoration will also help to create a natural look but it will need to be replaced quite regularly as most species of seaweed don't thrive in the aquarium.


Shanny's are extremely robust fish and despite their friendly appearance they can and will bully smaller fish especially at feeding time. Any inverts in the aquarium are at particular risk of being preyed upon. Shanny's should only be kept with each other and with similar sized equally robust fish which are too big to eat and not big enough to make a meal of the shanny's or are too fast for the shanny's to catch..

Food and feeding:

Shanny's are omnivorous but with a preference for meaty food for the bulk of their diet. They are quite unfussy and bold feeders. Frozen mysis shrimps, chopped shell fish, krill, will all be taken and all are available at most fish stores in frozen blister packs which have been sterilised and so there is no risk of introducing any pathogens in to the aquarium.


During the breeding season adult males in breeding condition are very dark, almost entirely black apart from having white lips.


With good care and in the right environment shanny's may spawn in an aquarium. The male will guard the eggs from several females.

Wild status:

The IUCN Red List of endangered species hasn't evaluated L. pholis. But the species is common across a wide range and isn't facing any immediate threats.

Further Information:

Beware, despite their size shanny's have a very powerful bite and sharp teeth. They can draw blood from a finger if it gets too close.

Shanny's don't move out with the tide, they can remain out of water for several hours provided that they are in a shady and damp area under stones for example. 

Information at a glance

pH: 8.2 - 8.4
dGH: 8 - 12
Salinity: 1.021 - 1.025
Temperature: 15 - 22°C (59 - 72°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 16.5cm (6.5in)
Min tank size: 250 litres
Difficulty level: Easy
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: Close to a surface

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Shanny, Lipophrys pholis

Origin: Eastern Atlantic: southern Norway to Morocco and Madeira, including the Mediterranean and the Balearics

Habitat: Resident intertidal species preferring rocky shorelines with plenty of seaweed for cover.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Blenniidae
Genus: Lipophrys
Species: L. pholis, (Linnaeus, 1758)

Other common names:
Common blenny,
Smooth blenny,

Blennius pholis,
Pholis laevis,
Pholis carolinus,
Pholis bufo,
Blennius bufo