California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Life History Information for Selected California Marine Fishes

Species

Primary depth range in feet
( x 0.305 = meters)

Primary Geographic range within state using four regions

Habitat Preference juveniles

Habitat Preference adults

Unique or significant life history characteristics

Larval type

Larval duration
[potential larval dispersal]

Potential for adult dispersal

Bass, barred sand

0-120

South: southern California mainland

soft bottom less than 30 ft, eel grass beds

sand bottom

aggregate over sand in summer - early fall for spawning

planktonic

3-4 weeks

moderate

Bass, giant sea

15-150

South: mainland and islands

rocky reefs, kelp beds, sand bottom

rocky reefs, kelp beds, sand flats

aggregate for several months during spawning

planktonic

one month; settle at ca. in.

moderate

Bass, kelp

0-75

South: mainland and islands (uncommon central Calif.)

rocky reefs, kelp beds, eel grass beds

rocky reefs, kelp beds

aggregate in kelp beds and over rocky reefs for spawning in late May- September

planktonic

28-30 days

moderate

Bass, spotted sand

0-200

South: Santa Monica Bay and south

sand, mud, jetties, eel grass beds

soft bottom, kelp forests, eel grass beds, jetties

aggregate near bays to spawn in summer

planktonic

25-31 days

low

Blacksmith

0-150

South: (to Monterey Bay)

rocky reefs

rocky reefs, kelp beds

demersal eggs in nests; defended by male

planktonic

short to moderate

moderate

Cabezon

0-250

All regions, including islands

rocky reefs, breakwaters, kelp beds, tide pools, open ocean

rocky reefs, kelp beds

eggs adhesive, attach to substrate, often macroalgae

planktonic

3-4 months

low

Corbina, California

0-45

South: mainland

soft bottom, nearshore including surf zone

soft bottom, surf zone and bays

growth rate faster in estuaries; spawn offshore

planktonic

short

low

Croaker, black

0-150

South: mainland

soft bottom, nearshore including surf zone

soft bottom, surf zone; occasionally rocky reefs

one of few croakers to prefer rocky reefs and kelp beds

planktonic

short

low

Croaker, white

0-420

All; most common Point Reyes to Mexico border

near bottom in shallow soft habitat

soft bottom, primarily nearshore and estuaries

schooling; multiple spawning each year; adults in deeper water than juveniles

planktonic; larvae become epibenthic

short

low

Croaker, yellowfin

0-150

South: mainland, Pt. Conception south

soft bottom, nearshore and estuaries

soft bottom, beaches and piers, estuaries, kelp beds

spawning primarily in summer

planktonic

short

low

Eel, wolf

Intertidal to 600

N,NC,SC

pelagic

rocky reefs, kelp beds

not a true eel; spawn October-February

planktonic

1-2 months

moderate

Flounder, starry

Shallow-900

N,NC,SC

estuaries and bays, nearshore soft bottom

soft bottom; estuaries and bays to upper slope

spawn near river mouths and in estuaries and bays

planktonic

25-75 days

moderate

Goby, bluebanded

0-210 incl. intertidal

S (to Monterey Bay during El Nio yrs)

rocky reefs

rocky reefs, kelp beds

males guard eggs, attached on brood chambers

planktonic

unknown

low

Goby, zebra

Intertidal to 200

S

rocky reefs

rocky reefs, usually in crevices and caves

demersal eggs, attached to roof of shelter

planktonic

unknown

low

Greenling, kelp

0-150

N,NC,SC

rocky reefs, kelp beds

rocky reefs, kelp beds

eggs adhere to rocky substrate

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Greenling, rock

shallow

N,NC

rocky reefs, kelp beds

rocky reefs, kelp beds

eggs adhere to rocky substrate

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Grunion, California

0-60

SC, S

sandy nearshore areas

sandy nearshore areas

eggs deposited on sandy beaches; lack filaments

planktonic

low to moderate

moderate

Guitarfish, shovelnose

0-50

SC, S

as adults

shallow sand or mud, open coast, bays, and estuaries

live-bearing

benthic

none

moderate

Hagfish, Pacific

30-3096

All

?

soft bottom

deposit egg cases

?

unknown

moderate

Halfmoon

0-130

S

rocky reefs, kelp beds

rocky reefs, kelp beds

regulates kelp growth by grazing

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Halibut, California

0-300

All

estuaries, shallow open coast soft bottom

estuaries and soft bottom open coast

distribution influenced by El Nio events

planktonic

< 30 days

moderate

Jacksmelt

shallow

All

kelp and eel grass beds; sandy beaches; harbors

kelp and eel grass beds; sandy beaches; harbors

eggs with filaments for attachment to eel grass and shallow algal beds

planktonic

low

moderate

Lingcod

0-1400

All

rocky reefs, kelp beds, hard bottom, soft bottom

rocky reefs, kelp beds, hard bottom, soft bottom

Spawns nearshore on rocky reefs; males guard eggs

planktonic

3 months

high

Lizardfish, California

5-750

SC,S

primarily soft bottom

primarily soft bottom

rest on bottom using pelvic fins

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Midshipman, plainfin

0-1000

All

soft bottom

soft bottom; spawn on hard substrate

Eggs deposited on rocks and hard substrate

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Opaleye

0-95

SC, S

rocky intertidal

rocky reefs, kelp beds

regulates kelp growth by grazing

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Pacific pompano
(Butterfish)

30-300

All

coastal pelagic

coastal pelagic

a schooling species

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Prickleback, monkeyface

0-80

N, NC, SC

rocky intertidal

rocky reefs, kelp beds

deposit eggs on rocky substrate

planktonic

low

low

Prickleback, rock

0-60

N, NC, SC

rocky intertidal

rocky reefs, shallow

deposit eggs on rocky substrate

planktonic

low

low

Queenfish

0-180

SC, S

soft bottom

shallow water and sandy bottom; in bays and sloughs

spawn at night from March to September

planktonic

short

moderate

Ray, bat

0-150

All

shallow soft bottom; bays and estuaries

shallow sandy and rocky areas, including bays and estuaries; kelp beds

live-bearing

miniature adults

none

moderate

Rockfish, aurora

600-1800

All

soft bottom

hard and soft bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, bank

102-810

All

midwater

midwater over hard bottom, drop offs

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, black

0-1200

N, NC, SC

soft bottom

rocky reefs, kelp forests

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, black-and-yellow

0-120

NC, SC, S

shallow rocky reefs

shallow rocky reefs, kelp forests

live-bearing

planktonic

Low to moderate

low

Rockfish, blackgill

720-1800 (juv.<660)

All

soft bottom

hard bottom, soft bottom, canyons, steep drop offs

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, blue

0-300

All

rocky reefs, kelp forests, soft bottom

rocky reefs, kelp forests

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Bocaccio

0-1050

All

over hard and soft bottom

midwater over hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, brown

0-420

All

low-relief hard and soft bottom

low-relief hard and soft bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

low to moderate

low

Rockfish, calico

60-840

SC, S

soft bottom

hard bottom, sand-rock and mud-rock interface

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, canary

0-900

N, NC, SC

soft bottom; sand-rock interface

midwater and near bottom over hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate to high

Chilipepper

0-1080

All

soft bottom

midwater over hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, China

36-420

N, NC, SC

rocky reefs

rocky reefs, kelp forests

live-bearing

planktonic

low to moderate

low

Rockfish, copper

0-600

All

rocky reefs and soft bottom

rocky reefs, kelp forests

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Cowcod

68-1200

All

soft and hard bottom

hard bottom, canyons

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, darkblotched

240-1800

All

soft bottom

soft and hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, flag

100-600

SC, S

rocky reefs

rocky reefs, canyons

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, freckled

130-550

S

soft bottom

hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, gopher

0-180

NC, SC, S

rocky reefs

rocky reefs, kelp forests

live-bearing

planktonic

low to moderate

low

Rockfish, grass

0-150

All

shallow rocky reefs

shallow rocky reefs, kelp forests

live-bearing

planktonic

low to moderate

low

Rockfish, greenblotched

200-1300

SC, S

soft bottom

hard and soft bottom, canyons

live-bearing

planktonic

low to moderate

low

Rockfish, greenspotted

160-660

NC, SC, S

soft bottom

hard bottom, canyons

live-bearing

planktonic

low to moderate

low

Rockfish, greenstriped

200-1320

All

soft bottom

low relief hard bottom, soft bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, halfbanded

192-1320

SC, S

soft bottom

low relief hard and soft bottom, cobble

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, honeycomb

90-250

S

soft bottom

hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

 

Rockfish, kelp

0-150

NC, SC, S

kelp forests and rocky reefs

kelp forests

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, Olive

0-480

NC, SC, S

kelp forests, soft bottom

rocky reefs, kelp forests

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Pacific ocean perch

180-2100

All

midwater over hard bottom

midwater over hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, pink

250-1200

NC, SC, S

soft bottom

hard bottom, canyons

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, pinkrose

325-960

SC, S

soft bottom

hard bottom, canyons

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, quillback

75-900

N, NC

rocky reefs

rocky reefs

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, redbanded

300-1560

all

soft bottom

soft and hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, redstripe

300-1200

N, NC

hard bottom

hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, rosethorn

390-1800

N, NC, SC

soft and hard bottom

hard bottom, canyons

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, rosy

50-420

All

soft and hard bottom

hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, sharpchin

300-1050

All

hard bottom

hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, shortbelly

0-930

All

midwater over hard bottom

midwater over hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, speckled

100-1200

All

hard bottom

hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, splitnose

700-1560

All

soft bottom

hard bottom, canyons

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, squarespot

60-600

All

hard bottom

hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, starry

80-900

NC,SC,S

hard bottom

hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, stripetail

192-1320

All

soft bottom

soft and hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, swordspine

250-1420

NC,SC,S

soft bottom

hard bottom, canyons

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, tiger

200-900

N, NC

hard bottom

hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, treefish

0-150

SC, S

rocky reefs

rocky reefs, kelp forests

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, vermilion

0-900

All

soft and hard bottom

wide depth range, rocky reefs, kelp forests, canyons

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, widow

0-1200

All

midwater over hard bottom

midwater over hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Rockfish, yelloweye

150-1200

N, NC, SC

rocky reefs

hard bottom, canyons

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

low

Rockfish, yellowtail

0-1800

All

midwater

midwater over hard bottom

live-bearing

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Sanddab, Pacific

30-1800

All

soft bottom

soft bottom

may spawn twice a year

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Sargo

0-130

S

rocky reefs, kelp beds, sand

rocky reefs, kelp beds, sand bottom

broadcast spawners

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Scorpionfish, California

0-600

S

reef systems

hard and soft bottom

adults aggregate in 12 to 360 feet to spawn; eggs released in gelatinous masses that float to surface

planktonic

unknown

low

Sculpin, staghorn

0-300

All

soft bottom, estuaries

soft bottom, estuaries

abundant in San Francisco estuary

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Seabass, white

0-400

NC,SC,S occurs farther north during El Nio events

sandy area, estuaries, piers, jetties, kelp beds

kelp beds. rocky reefs, offshore banks, open ocean

adults aggregate in spring-summer during spawning

planktonic

 

high

Shark, brown smoothhound

0-360

All

bays and estuaries

soft bottom, bays and estuaries, nearshore

live-bearing

miniature adults

zero

moderate

Shark, gray smoothhound

0-150

All

bays and estuaries

soft bottom, bays and estuaries, nearshore

live-bearing

miniature adults

zero

moderate

Shark, horn

0-492

S

rocky reefs, kelp beds

rocky reefs, kelp beds

lay egg cases

miniature adults

zero

moderate

Shark, Pacific angel

3-600

SC, S

flat, sandy bottoms

flat, sandy bottoms; sand channels between reefs

live-bearing

miniature adults

zero

moderate

Shark, leopard

0-300

All

enclosed bays and sloughs; kelp beds; shallow sandy areas

enclosed bays and sloughs; kelp beds; shallow sandy areas near reefs

aggregate in very shallow water to release young; live-bearing

miniature adults

zero

moderate

Sheephead, California

0-180

SC, S

rocky reefs, kelp beds

rocky reefs, kelp beds

changes sex from female to male with size

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Skate, big

10-360

N, NC

soft bottom

soft bottom, occasionally rocky reefs

young hatch from eggs in cases

miniature adults

zero

moderate

Skate, California

60-2200

All

soft bottom

soft bottom

young hatch from eggs in cases

miniature adults

zero

moderate

Skate, longnose

180-2040

All

soft bottom

soft bottom

young hatch from eggs in cases

miniature adults

zero

moderate

Smelt, night

0-420

N, NC, SC

soft bottom

shallow sandy coastal areas

spawn in surf zone at night

planktonic

low to moderate

moderate

Smelt, surf

shallow

N, NC, SC

soft bottom

shallow sandy coastal areas

spawn in surf zone in daytime

planktonic

low to moderate

moderate

Smelt, whitebait

0-180

N, NC, SC

soft bottom

shallow sandy coastal areas, bays, and estuaries

spawn in sandy subtidal areas

planktonic

low to moderate

moderate

Sole, Dover

60-3000

All

soft bottom, deep water

soft bottom, deep water

a portion of the stock migrates

planktonic

at least 1 year

moderate

Sole, English

60-1000

All

soft bottom, shelf

soft bottom

migrates, spawns at 200-360 ft

planktonic

6-10 weeks

moderate

Sole, petrale

60-1500

All

soft and hard bottom, shelf

soft and hard bottom, shelf

migrates, spawns at 900-1200 ft

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Sole, rex

60-2100

All

soft bottom, shelf and slope

soft bottom, shelf and slope

spawns at 300-900 ft

planktonic

at least 1 year

moderate

Sole, rock

50-1200

N, NC, SC

soft and hard bottom, shelf

soft and hard bottom, shelf

one of few flatfishes found on rocky bottom

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Sole, sand

5-312

N, NC, SC

soft bottom, nearshore, estuaries

soft bottom, nearshore

one of few medium-large flatfish found inshore

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Sole, slender

250-1700

All

soft bottom, shelf and slope

soft bottom, shelf and slope

relatively abundant offshore species

planktonic

moderate

moderate

Surfperch, barred

0-240

NC, SC, S

beaches

beaches

bear live, free-swimming young

not applicable

not applicable

moderate

Surfperch, black

0-130

All

rocky reef, kelp beds

rocky reef, kelp beds

bear live, free-swimming young

not applicable

not applicable

moderate

Surfperch, calico

0-30

All

beaches

beaches

bear live, free-swimming young

not applicable

not applicable

moderate

Surfperch, pile

0-240

All

rocky reefs, kelp beds, soft bottom

rocky reefs, kelp beds, soft bottom

bear live, free-swimming young

not applicable

not applicable

moderate

Surfperch, rainbow

0-130

All

rocky reef, kelp beds

rocky reef, kelp beds

bear live, free-swimming young

not applicable

not applicable

moderate

Surfperch, redtail

0-60

N, NC

beaches

beaches

bear live, free-swimming young

not applicable

not applicable

moderate

Surfperch, rubberlip

0-150

All

rocky reefs, kelp beds, soft bottom

rocky reefs, kelp beds, soft bottom

bear live, free-swimming young

not applicable

not applicable

moderate

Surfperch, shiner

0-480

All

estuaries, soft bottom, kelp beds, rocky reef

estuaries, soft bottom, kelp beds, rocky reef

bear live, free-swimming young

not applicable

not applicable

moderate to high

Surfperch, striped

0-55

All

rocky reef, kelp beds

rocky reef, kelp beds

bear live, free-swimming young

not applicable

not applicable

moderate

Surfperch, walleye

0-60

All

beaches

beaches

bear live, free-swimming young

not applicable

not applicable

moderate

Surfperch, white

0-140

All

rocky reefs, kelp beds, soft bottom

rocky reefs, kelp beds, soft bottom

bear live, free-swimming young

not applicable

not applicable

moderate

Thornyhead, longspine

1090-5000

All

deep hard and soft bottom

deep hard and soft bottom; slope

lack swim bladder; may survive after being brought to surface and released; spawn gelatinous floating egg masses

planktonic

unknown

moderate to high

Thornyhead, shortspine

84-5000+

All

deep hard and soft bottom

deep hard and soft bottom; slope

lack swim bladder; may survive after being brought to surface and released; spawn gelatinous floating egg masses

planktonic

unknown

moderate to high

Tomcod, Pacific

0-720

N, NC, SC

unknown

soft bottom

broadcast spawners; high fecundity

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Topsmelt

shallow

All

kelp and eel grass beds; sandy beaches, harbors

kelp and eel grass beds; sandy beaches, harbors

spawns in eel grass and algal beds, possibly kelp beds; eggs attach to spawning substrate by adhesive filaments

planktonic

low

moderate

Turbot, C-O

shallow-966

All

rocky reef, sand; shelf

rocky reef, sand; shelf

one of few flatfishes to occur in kelp beds

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Turbot, curlfin

25-1146

All

soft bottom

soft bottom; shelf

small mouth; difficult to catch with hook-and-line

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Whitefish, ocean

0-300

SC, S

unknown

midwater over hard and soft

responds favorably to El Niño

planktonic

unknown

moderate