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At Coronados Islands, Mexico
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Scorpaeniformes
Family: Scorpaenidae
Genus: Sebastes
S. serriceps
Binomial name
Sebastes serriceps

Sebastichthys serriceps Jordan & Gilbert, 1880

The treefish (Sebastes serriceps) is a species of marine ray-finned fish belonging to the subfamily Sebastinae, the rockfishes, part of the family Scorpaenidae. It is native to the eastern Pacific Ocean.


The treefish was first formally described as Sebastichthys serriceps in 1880 by the American ichthyologists David Starr Jordan and Charles Henry Gilbert with the type locality given as Santa Catalina and Santa Barbara in California.[2] Some authorities place this species in the monotypic subgenus Sebastocarus.[3] The specific name serriceps is a compound of serri meaning "serrated" and ceps which means "head", a reference to the strong spines aligned on the top of the head giving it a serrated appearance.[4]


The treefish has a robust oblong-shaped body which has a depth equivalent to 36% to 40% of its standard length. The head has a covering of many spines and it has a pointed snout, small eyes, and a medium sized terminal mouth. The dorsal fin has 13 spines and 13 to 15 soft rays while the anal fin has 3 spines and 5 to 7 soft rays.[5] This species attains a maximum total length of 41 cm (16 in) and a maximum published weight of 16 kg (35 lb).[1] The colr pattern of the treefish is distinctive with the adults having bright red lips. The overall color is yellow with 6 black vertical bars and numerous white dots or dashes, the margins of the scales being white. The orbit is vermilion[6] and there are two black bars radiating from the eye.[5]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The treefish is found in the eastern Pacific Ocean along the western coast of North America from Guerrero Negro in Baja California[5] north to San Francisco, California.[7] This is a demersal species with a depth range of 5 to 90 m (16 to 295 ft).[1] It can be found in exposed and sheltered rock areas as well as in kelp forests.[6]


The treefish is a nocturnal ambush predator feeding on benthic invertebrates and smaller fishes.[7] It is a solitary and highly territorial species living in areas of complex and high relief, hiding in crevices and cavities with just the head exposed.[6] Like other Sebastes rockfishes it is ovoviviparous,[1] and the females release larvae in March to July,[6] the juvenuiles shelter among mats of floating kelp[7] with the young fish settling onto the substrate in June to October.[6] They are thought to live for up to 25 years.[5]


The treefish is an important species to the nearshore recreational fishery and in commercial fisheries in southern California[7] and Mexico.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Froese, Rainer; Pauly, Daniel (eds.) (2021). "Sebastes serriceps" in FishBase. August 2021 version.
  2. ^ Eschmeyer, William N.; Fricke, Ron & van der Laan, Richard (eds.). "Species in the genus Sebastes". Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  3. ^ Z. Li; A.K. Gray; M.S. Love; A. Goto; A.J. Gharrett (2007). "Are the Subgenera of Sebastes Monophyletic?" (PDF). Biology, Assessment, and Management of North Pacific Rockfishes. Alaska Sea Grant College Program.
  4. ^ Christopher Scharpf & Kenneth J. Lazara, eds. (22 May 2021). "Order Perciformes (Part 8): Suborder Scorpaenoidei: Families Sebastidae, Setarchidae and Neosebastidae". The ETYFish Project Fish Name Etymology Database. Christopher Scharpf and Kenneth J. Lazara. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Treefish". Mexican Fish. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Treefish Sebastes serriceps". SIMoN - Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d "Sebastes serriceps - Treefish". Retrieved 14 December 2021.

External links[edit]