Fish with a long and flattened body, shaped like a kelp blade.
Coloring from light brown to green to purple, depending on the habitat. (In eelgrass, they can be bright green with thin silver stripes. In kelp beds, they can be brown-green like kelp). Can have wavy stripes on their sides.
Long dorsal (back) fin, almost the entire length of body.
Deeply forked tail fin.
Can be up to 24 inches long.
Juvenile fish can change colors rapidly. Adult females can change colors, but more slowly. Adult males cannot.
British Columbia to southern Baja California, Mexico.
Uncommon north of Point Conception.
Live in shallow water.
Live in rocky areas, kelp beds, eelgrass, and tide pools.
Found near piers with heavy kelp growth.
Females often lay 700 eggs at a time.
Females deposit eggs into algal nests.
Males vigorously guard nests for up to two weeks until eggs hatch.
Larvae are well-developed when they hatch and stay in plankton in large schools for several weeks.
Small fishes, crustaceans, mollusks.
They can quickly change colors during courtship or territorial displays.
They can also quickly change colors to camouflage in their environment.
Larval kelpfish sometimes school with transparent mysid shrimp.