Physical Description

  • Compressed oval body shape with elevated humpback.
  • Have small mouths, bulging eyes, and deeply notched dorsal (back) fin.
  • Metallic silver coloration with black bar running vertically down the body.
  • Juveniles have several black horizontal bars on sides, with the one vertical stripe appearing when reach 2-3 inches in length.
  • They are rarely bright yellow, orange, or pure white in coloration, and are darker silver when live in bays.


  • Santa Cruz, California to Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico.
  • Gulf of California, Mexico.
  • Uncommon north of Point Conception.


  • Found inshore, in bays.
  • Live in rocky areas, around pilings and similar submerged structures.
  • Found from the surface to 200 feet, but most common from 0 to 40 feet.


  • Sargos spawn when they are about 2 years old and 7 inches long.
  • Spawning occurs in late spring and early summer.


  • Bottom feeders, eat small shrimps, crabs, clams, sea snails, bryozoans.


Interesting Facts

  • As juveniles (under 5 inches), they are often found schooling with young salema and black croakers, before joining adult sargo schools.
  • Sargo make a piglike grunt when removed from the water.

Sources: California Department of Fish and Wildlife;; USGS

Photo: Herb Gruenhagen