Pink Seaperch

Pink Seaperch, Zalembius rosaceus

The Pink Seapeach, Zalembius rosaceus, whose common Spanish name is mojarra rosada, is a member of the Surfperch or Embiotocidae Family, known collectively as mojarras viviparas in Mexico. There is only one global member in the genus Zalembius, the species described herein, which is found in Mexican waters of the Pacific.

The Pink Seaperch have highly compressed elongated oval bodies with a depth that is 37 to 41% of standard length. They are pinkish-red and transition to white around the ventral portion of their head. They have a pair of dark spots under the center and rear of their dorsal fin and a dark bar at the base of their caudal fin. Their dorsal and ventral profiles are gently convex. Their head is small with a conical and bluntly pointed snout and disproportionately large horizontal eyes. Their mouth opens at the front and has jaws of equal size that do not reach the eyes. Their anal fin has a short base with three spines, the third being the longest, and 20 rays with an “S” shaped margin. Their caudal fin is forked and has a short narrowing and tapering base and a longer top lobe. Their dorsal fin is singular and continuous with a long base that has 10 spines and 18 soft rays; the middle spines are longer than the soft rays. Males have extended anal and caudal fin rays. Their pelvic fins are inserted behind the pectoral fins. Their lateral line is complete and high on the body. Their body is covered with smooth scales.

The Pink Seaperch are typical inhabitants of rocky reefs and open trawl grounds. Juveniles are found in the surf zone and adults move offshore at depths up to 900 feet, which is much deeper than where other surfperch are found. They reach a maximum length of 20.6 cm (8.1 inches). Their dietary habits have not yet been studied. Reproduction is viviparous. Mating occurs in the spring with gestation periods of five to seven months. Each female produces two to six fry that are 3.4 cm (1.4 inches) in length and born in winter. The Pink Seaperch is of scientific interest because of the timing of the various events of their annual reproductive cycle.

In Mexican waters the Pink Seaperch have a limited distribution being found only from Guerrero Negro northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja and there is a very small population in the greater Santa Rosalia area within the Sea of Cortez.

The Pink Seaperch is straightforward to identify due to its body profile and coloration and is therefore not easily confused with any other species.

The Pink Seaperch are exceedingly rare and small in stature and seldom seen by humans. They are caught on a limited basis as a by-catch of deep water trawlers.

Pink Seaperch (1)

Pink Seaperch, Zalembius rosaceus. Fish caught in coastal waters in the channel between Isla Danzante and Punta Coyote, Baja California, October 2007. Length: 15.0 cm (5.9 inches). Catch, photo, and identification courtesy of Brad Erisman, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.