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Bottomfish Identification: Greenling

Painted Greenling
Oxylebius pictus

Rarely caught by recreational harvesters within Puget Sound and uncommon in coastal waters.

Description: The body color of a painted greenling is usually grayish to brown with 5 to 7 red or reddish brown bars that extend onto the fins.  Occasionally the body can be quite dark with white spots.  The throat is usually dark-spotted with dark spots on the caudal, pectoral and pelvic fins. There is a lateral line along the body.  There are 2 cirri, one above the eye and the other midway between the eye and the start of the dorsal fin.  The anal fin has 3 to 4 spines. The snout of this species is pointed and 3 dark bands radiate from the eye, 1 forward and 2 backward.

Maximum Size: To 15 cm (6 in) in length.

Maximum Age: 8 years old.

Range/Habitat: Painted Greenling range from Kodiak Island to north central Baja, California, and are rare north of Washington. They are found in rocky areas from the intertidal to 49 m (160 ft).


  • Eschmeyer, W.N., E.S. Herald and H. Hammann, 1983. A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 336 p.
  • Shanks, A.L. and G.L. Eckert, 2005. Population persistence of California current fishes and benthic crustaceans: a marine drift paradox. Ecol. Monogr. 75:505-524.

Photo: J. Nichols