Winter Fishtival: Rockfish Fun Facts


Join us for hands-on activities, special talks and opportunities to learn more about the care and feeding of the Aquarium's fish, birds, tide pool animals and marine mammals at the Seattle Aquarium’s Winter Fishtival! Each day we'll highlight a different sea animal and activity. Today is the final day of Winter Fishtival and the final featured animal is the rockfish. Here are some fun and interesting facts about rockfish.

Rockfish are in the Scorpaenidae family. They are closely related to the tropical stonefish and lionfish and have venomous dorsal spines. With 68 species found along the Pacific coast of the North America, they commonly live hovering in kelp beds or along rocky reefs in our Washington waters.

Physical Characteristics:

  • Bass-like appearance: large eyes and mouth, compressed body, jutting lower jaw
  • Large dorsal fin, with well developed spines
  • Size varies from six inches to three feet in length
  • Many different color variations

Behavioral Characteristics:

  • Excellent at hovering in mid-water motionless
  • Some species school while others are more territorial and solitary
  • Many solitary species rest on the bottom or the reefs
  • Ovoviviparous – give live birth
  • Typically they inhabit deep water of 40 to 2,000 feet deep

Cool Facts:

  • Come rockfish can live to be 100 years or older.
  • There are 24 different species in the Pacific Northwest and we have about 14 different species in our exhibits at the Aquarium.
  • Some species of rockfish such as the China Rockfish, Sebastes nebulosus, are very territorial and may stay at a ‘home site’ for years. Other species such as the Blue Rockfish, Sebastes mystinus, school in large groups.
  • Rockfish eat fish, shrimp, crabs, squid, jellyfish, plankton and algae.
  • Rockfish can get up to 3 feet long. One of the largest species, Vermillion Rockfish, Sebastes miniatus, can reach a length of 2.5 feet in length.

Come learn more about all of the featured Winter Fishtival animals by visiting the Aquarium!

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