Cabezon (fish)

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For other uses, see Cabezon (disambiguation).
Scorpaenichthys marmoratus.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclass: Osteichthyes
Class: Actinopterygii
Subclass: Neopterygii
Order: Scorpaeniformes[1]
Suborder: Cottoidei
Superfamily: Cottoidea
Family: Cottidae
Genus: Scorpaenichthys
Girard, 1854
Species: S. marmoratus
Binomial name
Scorpaenichthys marmoratus
(Ayres, 1854)

The Cabezon, Scorpaenichthys marmoratus, is a sculpin native to the Pacific coast of North America. Although the genus name translates literally as "scorpion fish," true scorpionfish, i.e., the lionfish and stonefish, belong to the related family Scorpaenidae. This species is the only known member of its genus.[2]


The cabezon is a scaleless fish with a broad bony support extending from the eye across the cheek just under the skin. Normally it has 11 spines on the dorsal fin. The cabezon also has a stout spine before the eye, an anal fin of soft rays, and a fleshy flap on the middle of the snout. A pair of longer flaps are just behind the eyes. The mouth is broad with many small teeth. The coloring varies, but is generally mottled with browns, greens and reds. >90% of red fish are males, whereas >90% of green fish are females. It reaches a weight of up to 25 pounds. As the Spanish-origin name implies, the fish has a very large head relative to its body.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Cabezon are found from northern British Columbia to southern California.

They frequent kelp beds from shallow to moderate depths.

Fishing technique[edit]

Cabezon feed on crustaceans, mollusks, fish and fish eggs. Cabezon are taken as a game fish in California, however their roe is toxic to humans. Cabezon inhabit the tops of rocky ledges as opposed to rockfish and lingcod, which usually inhabit the sheer faces of these features.

The current world record for cabezone on hook and line is 23 pounds, 0 ounces in Juan de Fuca Strait, WA on Aug. 4, 1990 by Wesley Hunter.


  1. ^ "Scorpaeniformes". Paleobiology Database. Retrieved November 15, 2012. 
  2. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Scorpaenichthys marmoratus" in FishBase. December 2012 version.