Rosy Rockfish

Rosy Rockfish, Sebastes rosaceus

The Rosy Rockfish, Sebastes rosaceus, whose common Spanish name is rocote rosado, 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 Rosy Rockfish is a small fish with wide body that had a depth that is 33 to 37% of standard length. They range in color from various shades of yellow, to red to a pale pink and striated with purple on the head and back. They have four to six white “squares” just below the dorsal fin, with pink and yellow fin membranes. The normally change colors quickly when collected to a deep red uniform coloration. The head is short with a short snout, large bulging eyes, a relatively small terminal mouth and is heavily covered with spines. The anal fin has 3 spines and 5 to 7 rays; the caudal fin is square; the dorsal fin has 13 or 14 spines and 11 to 14 rays; the pectoral fins have 16 to 18 rays; and, they have 27 to 34 gill rakers. The body is covered with scales.

The Rosy Rockfish are bottom dwellers that are found as solitary individuals or in small groups within rock structure that are found at depths between 25 and 1,075 feet and reach a maximum length of 36 cm (14 inches). They are found mixed in with Blue, Pygmy, Speckled, Squarespot and Starry Rockfish. They feed on benthic prey including fishes, crabs, shrimp and squid. Reproduction is oviparous with each female releasing between 12,600 and 95,000 pelagic eggs. They have life spans of up to 14 years. Very little is known about the behavioral patterns of this species.

In Mexican waters the Rosy Rockfish have a limited distribution being found from Guerrero Negro northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja.

The Rosy Rockfish is difficult to identify and can be easily confused with the Pink Rockfish, Sebastes eos (lacks purple coloration), the Rosethorn Rockfish, Sebastes helvomaculatus (lacks purple coloration), and the Swordspine Rockfish, Sebastes ensifer (lacks purple coloration; exceedingly long second anal fin spine).

The Rosy Rockfish are a moderately important commercial catch in California and are taken with gill nets and hook and line. The majority are sold to Asian markets and restaurants. They are also caught with regularity by recreational fishermen but are routinely discarded due to their small stature.

Rosy Rockfish, Sebastes rosaceus. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater San Diego area, San Diego, California, December 2014. Length: 15 cm (5.9 inches). Identification courtesy of Milton Love, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA.

Rosy Rockfish, Sebastes rosaceus. Fish caught from coastal waters off Ejido Eréndira, Baja California, February 2015. Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Loreto, Baja California Sur. Identification reconfirmed by Milton Love, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA.