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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


Marine Region (Region 7)
Regional Manager: Dr. Craig Shuman
Main Office: 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey, CA  93940
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