information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Shore clingfish (Lepadogaster lepadogaster)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.
Only coastal and marine records shown



The body is dorso-ventrally flattened with a broad triangular head and 'duck billed' snout. The pelvic fins are modified into a thoracic sucking disc that allows the shore clingfish to adhere to rocky substrates. Conspicuous features include large tentacles in front of each nostril and a blue spot outlined in red or dark brown behind each eye. The colour of the body varies from reddish to green with irregular brown markings over the dorsal surface. Two deep blue spots with yellow margins behind the eyes on the back. Adapted front fins to 'cling' to rocks.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

South west England, Wales, south west Scotland and Ireland.

Global distribution



The shore clingfish is an intertidal species inhabiting rock pools and seaweed covered shores throughout the year. It is also found attached to the underside of overhanging rock crevices.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Dorso-ventrally flattened body, up to 8 cm in length.
  • 'Duck-billed' snout.
  • Pelvic fins modified into a sucker.
  • Large tentacles in front of each nostril.
  • Blue spot behind each eye.
  • Variable colour from reddish to green with irregular brown markings.

Additional information

The eggs of the shore clingfish are golden in colour and are laid underneath stones or attached to rocks. These are then guarded by either parent.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:


  1. Dipper, F., 2001. British sea fishes (2nd edn). Teddington: Underwater World Publications Ltd.

  2. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]

  5. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017

  6. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.

  7. Wheeler, A., 1994. Field Key to the Shore Fishes of the British Isles. Shrewsbury: Field Studies Council.


This review can be cited as:

Reeds, K.A. 2008. Lepadogaster lepadogaster Shore clingfish. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 15-08-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 08/05/2008