What Is Rockfish? – Everything You Should Know


Last updated on August 5th, 2022 at 10:59 am

Rockfish, often referred to as Atlantic rockfish, are fish of the family Scorpaenidae of the order Scorpaeniformes. They are the second most abundant fish species in the world, with more than 500 million pounds caught in commercial fisheries every year.

They are medium-sized, deep water fish that are found in abundance along the Pacific coast of North America. They can be found from Alaska to Mexico, but in general, they are considered to be an offshore species due to their preference for cooler waters. The primary method of fishing for rockfish is done by trawling, which means that the fish are caught on hooks as they are dragged across the ocean floor by a large net attached to a boat.

Although many species of this fish are native to the west coast of North America, most people only ever think of one when they hear the word rockfish – the Pacific Rockfish (Sebastes alutus). This fish has been so consumed by people that it’s had a significant impact on its population numbers, but it’s not all bad news! It’s actually quite tasty and full of nutrients, so eating it often might be good for you as well as good for the environment!

Origin and descriptions


They are a large family of marine fish, found in all oceans and most seas. More than 300 species have been identified, including red snapper and yellowtail snapper. Their family has an ancient origin, dating back more than 150 million years to their fossil ancestors, though not much is known about these extinct fish.

Most experts believe that when climate changes happened during those early years, many species went extinct because they couldn’t survive in water temperatures that were too cold or warm for them. Originally discovered off California’s coast, today, rockfish can be found around North America, in oceans as far north as Greenland to as far south as Patagonia.

Species profile

They are marine fish that live off of both coasts of North America. There are many different species of rockfish, each with its own unique characteristics and behaviors. The kelp rockfish (Sebastes atrovirens) is a popular commercial species, while others like yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) have natural predators due to their bright coloration.

Stonefish - Details, Sting Treatment And 7 Weird Facts

Northern Pacific rockfish or Pacific ocean perch, Gopher (or Sebastes carnatus) is one of three related ocean perch species in the Pacific Northwest, which also include yellowtail snapper (S. flavidus), and blackstripe rockfish or Japanese jack (S. saxicola). And finally, starry rockfish or Santa Barbara perch (S. stellatus) has an enormous range extending from central California all around to British Columbia.

They prefer temperate waters where they are able to hide among rocky reef formations near kelp beds. As ambush predators, they wait patiently for prey fish to swim within striking distance before launching themselves out of hiding for quick grabs.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the rockfish is Sebastes spp. Sometimes Scorpaenidae is used instead of Sebastidae.


They are found in temperate marine waters of all oceans, but they are most abundant in cooler coastal regions. They tend to live far offshore, close to sandy or rocky habitats that provide shelter from predators and a food source through filter feeding.

Rockfish size and weight

They can grow up to 26 inches (66 cm) in length and weighs around 2.4 kg.

Tank set-up


They are generally peaceful, so they are commonly kept with other non-aggressive species. They may also be territorial and aggressive towards other rockfish of similar size and color, however, keeping multiple individuals together may not always be a good idea. It’s essential to choose a tank with an ample amount of hiding places to keep your rock happy and stress-free.

They tend to prefer tanks with lots of rocks, caves, or structures for them to hide in; when frightened or stressed out, they can dart into these spaces quickly for safety. Aquatic plants can also help provide shade for these fish when hiding from predators.

Generally speaking, they thrive in freshwater environments with a pH between 6.5 and 8.0 and a temperature between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They require little or no saltwater since they are native to freshwater.

They are generally active during daylight hours, but they will remain motionless at night when kept in colder temperatures. Similarly, they become less active as water temperatures increase into the summer months. The average lifespan of rockfish is around six years; however, they may live up to 20 years if given proper care.

Bristle Worms 'Polychaete Worms'

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

They are not aggressive and get along well with other fish. However, it should be noted that some types of rockfish do prey on smaller species of fish so you should keep them in a tank where there aren’t other species living.

Rockfish care


The minimum acceptable water quality for captive rockfish should be 15 degrees dH, 10 degrees dGH, 10 degrees pH, and 0.5 ppm ammonia with a temperature of 68°F. Water changes should occur once every week to 10 days. To keep your fish healthy and happy, perform regular water changes, and remember to ensure that all equipment remains clean. Be sure not to overfeed them as it can upset their stomachs. It’s better if you feed them two or three small meals rather than one large meal.

What they eat

Their diet consists of a range of different prey types. They feed on crustaceans, worms, small fish, and mollusks. Invertebrates such as barnacles and mussels make up for over 50% of their diet. These fishes will go to great depths in search of food, up to 1500 meters or even more.

Rockfish lifespan

They have long lifespans; most live longer than 20 years. And because their numbers can’t sustain heavy fishing pressure, they’re one of few species that are classified as not overfished. This allows them to be harvested with greater frequency—they don’t need a break in order to rebuild their populations.

Parasites and diseases

They are often found to be infested with parasites, such as leeches and flukes. If you catch one of these fish that has been poorly handled, or has been in contact with freshwater for an extended period of time, you should carefully gut and scale it before cooking it to remove any parasite eggs.

You can kill some bacteria by cooking them to a higher temperature than normal (over 140 degrees Fahrenheit), but only if you cook them long enough (20 minutes). The best way to avoid food-borne illness associated with rockfish is by avoiding cross-contamination during handling; it’s also a good idea to cook raw seafood well and thoroughly.

Baitfish: 24 Amazing Types And Overview

Rockfish facts


Rockfish, Tuna, Salmon, and other large carnivorous fish are great dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, most have mercury levels that far exceed recommended consumption amounts. Fortunately for seafood lovers, there’s a family of small, rock-dwelling fish that have been discovered to have exceptionally low levels of mercury, making them a smart choice for any dinner plate.

A rockfish is a member of one of two groups that make up a family of fish known as Scorpaenidae. These fish are closely related to scorpionfish, and their name comes from their appearance, which resembles that of scorpions. They live at depths between 2,000 and 3,000 feet below sea level for most of their lives.

Is rockfish a good fish to eat?

Like any fish, they can be eaten in moderation. A 3-ounce serving of grilled rockfish, for example, contains about 100 calories and a little over 7 grams of fat. This can be offset by pairing your fish with low-calorie sides such as steamed vegetables and whole grains like brown rice or quinoa. If you’re watching your weight or blood sugar levels, choose leaner cuts like fillets, rather than fried dishes that are high in saturated fats.

What is rockfish taste like?

They are unique in taste. While they have a stronger taste than many other species, it’s not too strong for most people to enjoy. One might describe their taste as meatier than most fish with a texture that has slight chewiness to it.

Is rockfish the same as cod?

While similar in appearance to cod, rockfish come from colder waters. You’ll find them along both coasts of North America, but most abundant off Alaska and Canada. Although there are similarities between rockfish and cod meat, cod and other white fish varieties aren’t considered true members of the rockfish family.

Is rockfish and red snapper the same?

Rockfish and red snapper may look alike, but they have distinctly different profiles. Rockfish has flaky meat that’s often used in soups and stews, whereas red snapper has thicker flesh that can be grilled or sautéed. Both fish have pinkish-red skin with a white interior and are members of the grouper family, so it’s easy to see how one could get confused.

Lionfish - Description, Habitat And 5 Fun Facts

Does rockfish smell fishy?

Yes. They are actually members of a group of fish known as perciformes, or perch-like. Perciformes are typically deep-bodied and have large heads that are filled with big teeth to hunt their prey.

Is rockfish skin edible?

The skin may be inedible due to its texture and grittiness. But, if it’s properly prepared, rockfish skin can make for a delicious appetizer or snack. The most effective way to prepare rockfish skin is by salting it and letting it dry. Then, you can either fry or bake your dried fish skins until they turn crispy and golden brown.

Is rockfish a fatty fish?

They are not considered fatty fish, but they have just as much fat content as salmon and trout. While it’s true that rockfish don’t have much fat around their skin, it does have about 10 grams of unsaturated fats and 1 gram of saturated fats per serving. The majority of these fats come from omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which some people consider heart-healthy because they improve blood vessel function.

Is the rockfish poisonous?

They are not poisonous, unlike its name may suggest. They are often covered in an unsightly coating of parasitic sea lice called Lepeophtheirus salmonis. This parasite causes red lesions on its skin and gills that make it unattractive to potential customers.