Physical Description

  • A long, skinny, cylindrical fish.
  • Flat, lizard-like head, with a snout that is almost triangular and long, pointed teeth.
  • Mostly brown and greenish-brown coloring with copper lustrous coloring on sides and lighter gray belly.
  • Lower jaw and fins are yellow.
  • Juvenile fish are nearly transparent, scaleless, and have dark blue diamonds running along the belly.
  • Adults grow to be up to 25 inches in length.


  • Cape Beal, British Columbia to Guaymas, Mexico.
  • Gulf of California, Mexico.


  • Live in shallow, sandy areas.
  • Common from depths of 5-150 feet, but up to 750 feet.


  • They begin to spawn during the summer months when adult fish start to assemble in sandy patches.
  • Spawning peaks in the fall.


  • Squid, topsmelt, anchovies, krill, and other small fishes.
  • They are ambush predators who sit on the bottom until prey swims past.


  • California sea lions.

Interesting Facts

  • Because of its appearance, it is often called the candlefish.
  • The USS Lizardfish was a Navy submarine during World War II that successfully engaged in several battles. The sleek sub was named for the long, slender fish.

Sources:; California Department of Fish and Wildlife; Dana Point Fishing Company

Photo: Herb Gruenhagen