Chilipepper, Sebastes goodei

The Chilipepper, Sebastes goodei, whose common Spanish name is rocote pimiento, 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 Chilipeppers have elongated bodies with a depth that is 28 to 32% of standard length. They vary in color from various shades of brown and pink-red on their upper backs and pink with brassy overtones on their sides. They have 3 dark bars on their back that fade post collection. Their head is relatively short with a mid-length snout, mid-sized eyes, and a small terminal mouth. The tips of their dorsal fin are white. Their anal fin has 3 spines and 7 to 10 rays; their caudal fin is slightly forked; their dorsal fin has 13 spines and 13 to 16 rays; their pectoral fins have 16 to 19 rays; and they have 31 to 39 gill rakers. Their body is covered with scales.

The Chilipeppers are found as solitary individuals or in small groups in mid-water over banks or resting on the sea floor within rock structures at depths up to 1,700 feet. They reach a maximum length of 59 cm (23 inches), with females being larger than males. They feed primarily on small fish. Reproduction is oviparous with each female releasing between 18,000 and 538,000 pelagic eggs. They have a lifespan of up to thirty-five years, however, very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Chilipeppers have a limited distribution being found from Magdalena Bay northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja.

The Chilipepper is not easily confused with any other species due to its small terminal mouth and the three bars on its sides.

The Chilipeppers are an important commercial catch in California waters and are caught primarily via hook and line, gill nets, and trawls. They are also caught with some regularity by recreational fishermen but levels are on the decline. They are considered an excellent food fish.

Chillipepper, Sebastes goodei. Fish caught in coastal waters off Long Beach, CA, August 2017. Length: 15.2 cm (6.0 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Fullerton, CA. Identification courtesy of Milton Love, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA.

Chillipeper (1)Chillipeper (2)

Chillipepper, Sebastes goodei. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater San Diego area, San Diego, California, August 2014. Length: 33 cm (13 inches). Identification courtesy of Milton Love, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA.