California Clingfish

California Clingfish, Gobiesox rhessodon

The California Clingfish, Gobiesox rhessodon, whose common Spanish name is chupapiedras californiana, is a species in the Clingfish or Gobiesocidae Family, collectively known as chupapiedras in Mexico. Globally, there are twenty-nine species in the genus Gobiesox, seven of which are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and five in the Pacific.

The California Clingfish have elongated “tadpole” like bodies that are tallest and widest at the pectoral fins. They are a dark brown dorsally with a distinct cream-colored band across the eyes, a second wider cream colored broader band between the pectoral fins and a drab bar and the base of the golden caudal fin. They also have a spot on each side at the base of the dorsal fin. Their head is broader than the body but not as deep and has an evenly rounded blunt snout with a mouth which has thick lips and extends to the front margin of the eyes with eight incisors on the mandible and an irregular series of seven to nine upper conical teeth. There is one sharp spine on the gill cover. Their anal fin has 9 or 10 rays. Their dorsal fin has 10 to 12 rays but no spines. The sucker on their ventral side is disproportionately large. Their skin is smooth and has no scales.

The California Clingfish are a shallow-water species found in rocky areas within tidal pools exposed to high surf at depths up to 35 feet. They reach a maximum length of 6.4 cm (2.5 inches). They feed primarily on barnacles and small crustaceans. Reproduction is oviparous with eggs that are attached under rock and guarded by the adults with planktonic larvae. The California Clingfish are poorly studied and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the California Clingfish are found from Magdalena Bay northward along the central and northwest coasts of the Baja.

The California Clingfish is a straightforward identification due to its coloration and markings.

The California Clingfish are too small to be of interest to most and are typically a “catch-and-release.”

California Clingfish, Gobiesox rhessodon. Fish caught from a tidal pool in Malibu, CA, January 2018. Length: 3.8 cm (1.5 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Ben Cantrell, San Diego, CA.