Physical Description

  • Long, slender fish, almost cigar-shaped.
  • Metallic yellow-bronze color on sides, with a silver belly, and small white spots along body.
  • Large black spot on their tail.
  • Have protruding teeth, ideal for picking off hydroids and bryozoans.
  • Can be up to 10 inches long.


  • Sonoma County, California to central Baja California, Mexico.


  • Live in rocky reefs and kelp beds.
  • Found at depths of 5-240 feet.


  • Reproduction has not been well-studied in these fish.
  • Most scientists think that unlike most of their wrasse relatives, señoritas do not change sex during their lifetimes.
  • Their eggs float suspended in the water column.


  • Small invertebrates, such as hydroids, bryozoans, and amphipods.
  • Often they eat parasitic copepods and isopods off of the scales and fins of other animals.


  • Brandt’s cormorants, California sea lions, yellowtail, white seabass, kelp bass, other large fishes.

Interesting Facts

  • They are fast swimmers and will often dart to the bottom and bury themselves in the sand whenever they are approached.
  • Fishermen consider them nuisances because they are very good at stealing bait off a hook.
  • They are cleaner fish, cleaning parasites off of other fish. Once they start cleaning, other fish gather to be cleaned as well. But once they are full, they swim away, leaving the uncleaned fish to fend for themselves. 

Sources: Oregon Coast Aquarium; Monterey Bay Aquarium; Scripps Institution of Oceanography;

Photo: Derek Tarr