Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Pleuronectiformes (flat-fishes)
Family: Paralichthyidae (large-tooth flounders)

Genus/species; Paralichthys californicus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: They are large, oval-shaped flatfish. with small heads, large mouths, small eyes set wide apart. Their lateral line appears as a high arch above the pectoral fin. Many of these fish are right eyed even though they are members of the left-eyed family. They may grow to 1.5 m (5 feet) in length and weigh 32 kg (72 pounds).


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Northern Washington to southern Baja California, though less common north of San Francisco Bay. P. californicus are found on sandy bottoms to a depth of 183 m along the shore, near rocks and in bays and estuaries.

DIET IN THE WILD: Like flatfish in general, is an ambush predator, using its large, powerful caudal fin to accelerate off of the substrate when prey such as other fishes or squid venture near. Juveniles (less than 55 mm) feed mainly on small crustaceans, such as harpacticoid copepods, small gammarid amphipods, and mysid shrimps.


MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: They may live as long as 30 years but are subject to predation by sea lions, sharks, rays and dolphins.

REPRODUCTION: Females can reproduce at 4-5 years and males at 2-3 years. California halibut are broadcast spawners in shallow waters of coastal areas. Their eggs are fertilized externally. In the larval form flatfish are bilaterally symmetrical and swim upright, as do other fishes, but at about 13 days one eye begins to migrate to the other side of the head. By the time the juvenile is about 8 mm, it has turned on its side.

LONGEVITY: Up to 30 years in the wild.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List: Least Concern (LC)

Color of Life note:  P. californicus demonstrates a well-camouflaged fish using cryptic coloration on the sandy substrate. The chromatophores in the skin change its color and patterning to match its environment.

REMARKS: They have very sharp canine like teeth, and are known to bite.

They are able to use their lateral line to detect vibrations in the water, aiding in prey location and predator avoidance.

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