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Bottomfish Identification: Surfperch

Shiner Perch
Cymatogaster aggregata

Caught by recreational harvesters within Puget Sound and in embayments along the outer coast.

Description: The body of the shiner perch is an oval shape and is compressed from side to side. These perch have dusky greenish back and silvery sides that have a pattern combining horizontal bars with three broad yellow vertical bars. Breeding males turn almost entirely black, obscuring the barred pattern with dark speckles. Shiner perch are distinguished by having 8-9 dorsal fin spines, and 18 to 23 dorsal rays. The anal fin has 3 spines followed by 22–25 rays. 

Maximum Size: To 20.3 cm (8 in) in length.

Maximum Age: 9 years old.

Range/Habitat: Shiner perch range from Wrangell, southeastern Alaska to Bahia San Quintin, northern Baja California, Mexico.  They are usually found in shallow water around eelgrass beds, piers and pilings and are commonly found in bays and calm areas of exposed coast. 


  • 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