Groundfish identification - Common Pacific groundfish

Identify common groundfish species in British Columbia.

Rockfish Anatomy
Anatomy of a Rockfish
Flounder Anatomy
Anatomy of a Cod
Flounder Anatomy
Anatomy of a Flounder

Common pacific groundfish

Species name Identifying features
Black Rockfish

Black Rockfish (Sebastes melanops)

  • Up to 63 cm
  • Body black to grey
  • Belly is pale pink to white
  • Fins are dark with black spots
  • Anal fin edge rounded and slants anteriorly
  • Jaw extends past orbit
Bocaccio Rockfish

Bocaccio Rockfish (Sebastes paucispinis)

  • Up to 91 cm
  • Body dark orange-red to olive brown
  • Lower jaw is long and projects past upper jaw
Canary Rockfish

Canary Rockfish (Sebastes pinnigers)

  • Up to 76 cm
  • Body mottled orange to yellow on grey background
  • Lateral line is pale
  • Fins are bright orange
  • 3 orange bands radiating from eyes
  • Anal fin edge slants anteriorly
China Rockfish

China Rockfish (Sebastes nebulosus)

  • Up to 43 cm
  • Body black mottled with yellow, white and pale blue
  • Broad yellow stripe starting at 3rd dorsal spine and running along lateral line
Copper Rockfish

Copper Rockfish (Sebastes caurinus)

  • Up to 57 cm
  • Body olive-brown to copper with pink or yellow blotches
  • Body can be dark brown
  • 2 yellow or dark bands radiating from eyes
  • Last 2/3 of lateral line is pale
  • Belly is pale pink to white
Dusky Rockfish

Dusky Rockfish (Sebastes ciliatus)

  • Up to 53 cm
  • Body grey to greenish-brown fading to light grey or pink on belly
  • Symphyseal knob present
  • Anal fin edge almost vertical
  • Brown bands radiating from eyes
  • Jaw extends to end of pupil
Quillback Rockfish

Quillback Rockfish (Sebastes maliger)

  • Up to 61 cm
  • Body dark brown to black mottled with orange-yellow
  • Appears to have freckles
  • Dorsal fin is high and deeply incised
Redbanded Rockfish

Redbanded Rockfish (Sebastes babcocki)

  • Up to 64cm
  • Body light pink to red with 4 broad vertical red bands
  • 1 red band radiating from eyes
Tiger Rockfish

Tiger Rockfish (Sebastes nigrocinctus)

  • Up to 61 cm
  • Body white to red
  • 5 dark red or black narrow vertical bands
  • 2 dark red or black bands radiating from eyes
  • Body can be brownish-red with black vertical bands
Widow Rockfish

Widow Rockfish (Sebastes saxicola)

  • Up to 53 cm
  • Body golden-brown to lightbrown
  • Symphyseal knob absent
  • Anal fin edge slants posteriorly
  • Mouth is small
  • Jaw extends to mid-orbit
Yelloweye Rockfish

Yelloweye Rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus)

  • Up to 100 cm
  • Body yellow to red
  • Eyes are bright yellow
  • Fins usually have black tips
  • Adults have light band on lateral line
  • Juveniles are red with 2 light bands, one on lateral line and a shorter one below
Yelloweye Rockfish

Yelloweye Rockfish (Sebastes flavidus)

  • Up to 66 cm
  • Body olive-green to green-brown
  • Symphyseal knob present
  • Anal fin edge almost vertical
  • Fins have yellow tinge
  • Jaw extends to back edge of orbit

Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus)

  • Up to 150 cm
  • Body mottled brown to grey fading to white on belly
  • Head, mouth & teeth are all large
  • Appears to have 1 dorsal fin
  • No barbel under chin
Pacific Cod

Pacific Cod (Gadus macrocephalus)

  • Up 120 cm
  • Body mottled grey to brown fading to white on belly
  • 3 dorsal fins
  • 2 anal fins
  • Barbel under chin
Sablefish (Black Cod)

Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)

  • Up to 107 cm
  • Body black to grey
  • Scales small
  • 2 dorsal fins
  • 1 anal fin
  • Forehead flat
  • Caudal fin forked
  • No barbel under chin
Arrowtooth Flounder

Arrowtooth Flounder (Atheresthes stomias)

  • Up to 84 cm
  • Body brown-grey to olive
  • Blind side white to grey
  • Mouth large
  • 2 rows of large arrow-shaped teeth
  • Caudal fin forked
  • Right-eyed
Starry Flounder

Starry Flounder (Platichthys stellatus)

  • Up to 1 meter
  • Body brown to green and diamond shaped
  • Blind side white to tan
  • Dorsal & anal fins are banded with black
  • Scales rough
  • Can be right or left-eyed
Pacific Halibut

Pacific Halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis)

  • Up to 270 cm
  • Body marbled brown with grey
  • Blind side white
  • Body thick and sturdy
  • Mouth large with sharp conical teeth
  • Caudal fin slightly forked
  • Almost always right-eyed
English Sole

English Sole (Parophrys vetulus)

  • Up to 57 cm
  • Body light brown
  • Blind side white to yellow
  • Body smooth and diamond shaped
  • Head & jaw pointed
  • Right-eyed
Rock Sole

Rock Sole (Lepidopsetta bilineata)

  • Up to 60 cm
  • Body mottled brown
  • Dark blotches on fins
  • Blind side white with pink tinge
  • Mouth small
  • Scales large and rough
  • High arch on lateral line
  • Right-eyed
Pacific Sanddab

Pacific Sanddab (Citharichthys sordidus)

  • Up to 41 cm
  • Body brown to tan mottled
  • Blind side white to tan
  • Caudal fin rounded
  • Eyes and mouth are large
  • Left-eyed
Big Skate

Big Skate (Raja binoculata)

  • Up to 240 cm
  • Body olive-brown to grey
  • Blind side is white
  • Dark eye spots on wings
  • 5 gill slits
  • Dorsal spines start above the tail
Longnose Skate

Longnose Skate (Raja rhina)

  • Up to 140 cm
  • Body dark brown
  • Blind side is grey
  • Long pointed nose
  • 5 gill slits
  • Dorsal spines start at tail
Kelp Greenling

Kelp Greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus)

  • Up to 61 cm
  • Male body brown to olive with blue spots
  • Female body light brown to golden-blue with large brown to orange spots
  • 5 lateral lines on each side

Cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus)

  • Up to 100 cm
  • Body marbled olive-green to brown-grey with white patches
  • Body can be red
  • Flap like projections on snout and over each eye
Red Irish Lord

Red Irish Lord (Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus)

  • Up to 51cm
  • Body red mottled with brown, white and black
  • 4 vertical dark bands
  • Single dorsal fin notched to form 3 steps
  • Snout blunt and rounded

Ratfish (Hydrolagus colliei)

  • Up to 100 cm
  • Body grey-brown with white spots with olive belly
  • Tail is long and tapering
  • Watch out for the poisonous spine at the front of the dorsal fin
Spiny Dogfish

Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias)

  • Up to 160 cm
  • Body slate grey to brown
  • Belly white to light grey
  • 5 gill slits
  • 2 dorsal fins with a spine in front of each
  • No anal fin