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Bottomfish Identification: Flatfish

Arrowtooth Flounder
Atheresthes stomias

Commonly caught off the Washington coast by commercial harvesters using otter-trawls and longline gear. 

Description: This flounder is a right-eyed flatfish with the left eye on the dorsal ridge (visible from blind side). The eyed side tends to be uniformly dark grayish brown to olive brown with scales that are dark edged.  The blind side is light grey to white with an anterior nostril that has a small flap.  Body shape is an elongate diamond, with a slightly crescent-shaped caudal fin.  The lateral line runs virtually straight across the body with a slight curve over the pectoral fin. This species lacks a dorsal branch to the lateral line. Arrowtooth flounder have a very large mouth with two rows of sharp, arrow-shaped teeth and no fang-like teeth on the vomer (bone in roof of mouth). The maxillary extends below or beyond the posterior margin of the lower eye.  With this species the anal spine is absent (unlike Pacific halibut), the preopercle is C-shaped (not angular), and the dorsal fin originates at the middle of the eye.

Maximum Size: To 86 cm (34 in) in length, and 7.7 kg (17 lbs) in weight.

Maximum Age: 27 years old.

Range/Habitat: Arrowtooth flounder are found from the eastern Bering Sea to San Pedro, southern California.  They are found north and south of the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands. This flatfish is common on soft bottoms and has been found in depths ranging from 18 to 732 m (60-2,400 ft). They are most common between 274 to 472 m (930-1,320 ft).


  • Kramer, D. E., & Josey, T. (1995). Guide to Northeast Pacific flatfishes: families Bothidae, Cynoglossidae and Pleuronectidae. Sea Grant.
  • NOAA FishWatch

Photos: S. Axtell and A. Hennings