Last modified: August 25, 2018

Fish Sea Chubs and Damselfish


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.

3 Responses

  1. Do they ever show up in the surf in mid fall and early winter? It’s the only sea chub i haven’t caught so far. What baits do you recommend?

  2. Hi Ken,
    Do you think is possible to find Bermuda Chubs in South California?
    I have been in Science Museum in San Francisco and they have a big one in their aquarium.

    1. No, they’ve never been recorded in California.

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