Sea Chubs: Family Kyphosidae
Species: Hermosilla azure (Jenkins & Evermann, 1889); from Hermosillo (the name of the capitol city of Sonora Province in Mexico, near where first collected) and the Latin word azurea (sky-blue coloring).
Alternate Names: Zebra perch, convict fish and sea chub. In Mexico called chopa azul or chopa bonita.
Identification: An oval-shaped body with a bright blue spot on the gill cover, behind the eye. Usually dusky or olive-brown to black above but some specimens are greenish or silver-gray; whitish below. Zebras usually have about a dozen faint, azure-colored, vertical bars on the side.
Size: Length to 17.4 inches. Most caught from piers are fairly good size, 10-14 inches long. A 16-inch fish weighed 3 pounds 2 ounces.
Range: Gulf of California to Klamath River estuary; rare north of southern California.
Habitat: Intertidal to 25 feet deep. Usually found around rocks or reefs in small schools, often mixed with opaleye and halfmoon.
Piers: Most common at piers near rocky areas. Best bets: Ocean Beach Pier, Oceanside Harbor Pier, San Clemente Pier, Huntington Beach Pier, Cabrillo Mole (Avalon), Paradise Cove Pier, Stearns Wharf, Goleta Pier and Gaviota Pier.
Shoreline: An infrequent but valued catch by rocky shore anglers in southern California.
Boats: Rarely taken by boaters.
Bait and Tackle: Light tackle with small hooks (size 8 or 6) and light line works best. Bait: moss is the best bait but fresh mussels, bloodworms and peas seem to catch a few fish.
Food Value: Fair, not considered as good as opaleye or halfmoon.
Comments: Hard to catch because of their vegetarian diet and their shy and cautious nature. Studies done on zebraperch at Catalina showed them to be herbivores with a macroalgal diet. Stomach contents revealed algae, lots of it, with red algae (88.2%) being the predominate food. Brown algae (7.8%) and green algae (4.0%) also added to the mix but animal matter was less than .01%. Unfortunately, snaggers take most zebras. Zebraperch are in the same family of sea chubs as opaleye and halfmoon.