Calico Rockfish

Calico Rockfish, Sebastes dallii

The Calico Rockfish, Sebastes dallii, whose common Spanish name is rocote algodón, is a species in the Rockfishes and Scorpionfishes or Scorpaenidae Family, known collectively as escorpiónes or lapóns in Mexico. Globally, there are one hundred twenty four species in the genus Sebastes, forty nine of which are found in Mexican waters, all in the Pacific.

The Calico Rockfish have oval, elongated, and fairly wide bodies with a depth that is 32 to 36% of standard length. They have an overall greenish-yellow coloration with oblique reddish-brown bars on their sides. Live fish have mottled brown spotting which quickly dissipates post collection. The rays of their caudal fin are dark brown. Their anal and pelvic fins are transparent with a red tinge, their caudal and dorsal fins are dark, and their pectoral fins are orange-red. Their head is sharply pointed with large eyes and a large terminal mouth. Their anal fin has 3 spines (the second being long and stout) and 6 or 7 rays; their caudal fin is square; their dorsal fin has 12 to 14 spines and 12 to 14 rays; their pectoral fins have 16 or 17 rays; and they have 30 to 36 gill rakers. Their dorsal spines are known to contain a mild toxin. Their body is covered with scales.

The Calico Rockfish are bottom dwellers that reside in a wide variety of habitats including high and low relief habitats at depths up to 840 feet. They reach a maximum length of 20.0 cm (7.9 inches), with females being larger than males. They are found as solitary individuals or in small schools. They feed on a wide variety of marine organisms including amphipods, bivalves, brittle stars, copepods, crabs, small fish, krill, shrimp, and polychaete worms. They are one of the most abundant Rockfish in shallow coastal waters of Southern California. Females release between 3,900 and 18,000 eggs per annum. They have a lifespan of at least 12 years, however, very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Calico Rockfish has a limited distribution being found from Cedros Island northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja.

The Calico Rockfish is very straightforward to identify and cannot be confused with any other species due to the oblique bars on its sides.

The Calico Rockfish are too small to be of commercial interest. They are caught on occasion by recreational anglers but typically discarded.

f308-calico-rockfish-3Calico Rockfish, Sebastes dallii. Fish caught from coastal waters off Redondo Beach, California, May 2016. Length: 15 cm (5.9 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Ben Cantrell, Peoria, IL.

Calico Rockfish (1)

Calico Rockfish, Sebastes dallii. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater San Diego area, San Diego, California, October 2014. Length: 16 cm (6.3 inches).