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Bottomfish Identification: Surfperch

Redtail Surfperch
Amphistichus rhodoterus

Caught by recreational harvesters off the outer Washington coast.

Description: The body of the redtail surfperch is a deep oval shape and is compressed from side to side.  It is about twice as long as it is high.  It is silver to white in color with olive green vertical markings and red or pink fins.  The vertical marks are bars when the fish is young and become less distinct as the fish grows. The fins of the redtail surfperch have both rays and spines and the tail is moderately forked.  This species has a small, upturned mouth. The upper profile of the head is almost straight from the tip of the snout to the first dorsal fin, except for a slight depression above the eye. 

Maximum Size: To 41 cm (16.1 in) in length and 2.1 kg (4.5 lbs.) in weight.

Maximum Age: 14 years old.

Range/Habitat: Redtail surfperch range from Avila Beach, California to Hope Island, British Columbia.  They are found in schools and are common along sandy ocean beaches and jetties. 


  • Bennett, D.E., and R.S. Wydoski, 1977. Biology of the redtail surfperch (Amphistichus rhodoterus) from the Central Oregon Coast. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Technical Paper 90:1-23.
  • Eschmeyer, W.N., E.S. Herald and H. Hammann, 1983. A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 336 p.

Photos: Robertson, D Ross