How long do they live? When I began this project I had no idea what I was getting into. Like most people, I assumed researchers knew almost everything about lifespans and reproductive rates of almost all of the animals on this planet. I was wrong and given the amount of species on this planet, I should not have thought otherwise. My bad.

Back to the story of the China rockfish. Based on the very scant data available, researchers know that China rockfish can live up to 79 years old [1]. This number is referenced like mad in papers, but I’ve seen no follow up studies.

Where are they found? China rockfish are found in a bit more shallow waters than most long-lived rockfish and you can find them from 10 to 420 feet deep in the Gulf of Alaska to northern California [2].

What do they eatThey enjoy an array of ocean floor species including brittle starfish  and shrimp [2].

What do they look like? China rockfish look like rock stars of the ocean. They wear an all black suit studded with white dots. The main highlight of their costume is the bright yellow stripes found on their face and the one that extends their entire body length. China rockfish are on the small side and the maximum recorded length to data is 1.47 feet [3]. See figures 1,2, and 3.

Figure 1. The yellow and black markings of the China rockfish.
Figure 2. The coloration allows these fish to avoid predators.
Figure 3. I’m beginning to figure out where some rock stars got their fashion sense from.

How do they reproduce? These rockfish are viviparous and reach sexual maturity around 6 years of age [2].

How do scientists know how old they are? Otolith annuli counts [1], but that was only in one paper that I tracked down.

So what are we lacking? There’s very little known about China rockfish, so here’s a bullet list:

  • Reproductive senescence information is needed
  • Population numbers
  • Conservation status since this species has not been evaluated by the IUCN, which is a problem because it is is a part of commercial fishery catches.
  • There is no nuclear or mitochondrial genome data for Sebastes nebulosus on the NCBI website.

Please contact me if you can add to some of the missing information about this brightly colored species.


  1. Shayne MacLellan, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, BC, Canada.
  2. Love, Milton S., Mary Yoklavich, and Lyman K. Thorsteinson. The rockfishes of the northeast Pacific. Pages 219-221. Univ of California Press, 2002
  3. China rockfish. Accessed 10/24/2016