Canary Rockfish | Oceana Canada

Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia

Canary Rockfish

Sebastes pinniger

Also known as

Red snapper, fantail, canary, orange rockfish, rock cod


Northeastern Pacific from the Gulf of Alaska, USA to Baja California, Mexico


Rocky bottoms with complex structures

Feeding Habits

Active predator

Conservation Status



Order Scorpaeniformes (scorpionfishes & flatheads); Family Sebastidae (rockfishes, rockcods & thorny


Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google+

Canary rockfish are one of the top three most commonly harvested rockfish, caught in both commercial and sport fisheries. They have been harvested for decades, which has unfortunately greatly reduced their population size across the coast of British Columbia. They are also at risk from fishing pressures due to high levels of post-release mortality, dying after being caught and released by fishers, from both recreational fisheries and as incidental catch in commercial fisheries. This is due to “barotrauma,” a phenomenon in which the eyes and other organs of deepwater fishes greatly expand and can erupt, caused by the sudden change in pressure as they are brought from high pressure, deepwater habitats, to low-pressures at the surface of the ocean.

Like all rockfish, Canary rockfish are slow to grow, late to mature, and have a long lifespan. Females mature at around 13 years of age, and live for 20 to 30 years. Rockfish, are “ovoviviparous,” meaning their eggs are fertilized internally, and females release live young after the eggs hatch inside her. Females will release around 100,000 to more than 1.5 million larvae, depending on her size and age, which is considerably more larvae than most other rockfish. 

These larvae are then found floating along the surface of the open ocean, where they remain for several months, feeding on zooplankton, being passively dispersed by ocean currents. As they mature they settle on the ocean floor, in areas with complex structural habitats such as submarine canyons, rocky reefs and kelp forests. As adults, they eat demersal (bottom dwelling) invertebrates and small fishes, including smaller rockfishes.