California Salema, Xenistius californiensis: The California Salema has an overall silver appearance with 6 to 8 dark orange-brown stripes on the upper two-thirds of the sides (with an even greater number at maturity).
It has an elongated body (31 to 33 percent width to length), large eyes, and an oblique mouth with a projecting lower jaw. A key to identification is that the spinous base of the dorsal fin is longer than the base of the rayous part. The California Salema has a lateral line that follows one of the stripes, short pectoral fins, and a forked caudal fin.
Found in all Mexican fishing waters, the California Salema reaches a maximum length of 12 inches, but is most common around 6 inches. The California Salema is generally found near reefs, near the shore, or high in a kelp forest between 4 and 35 feet deep in the water column. It feeds at night on plankton.
The California Salema can be easily confused with the Longfin Salema, Xenichythys xanti (spinous part of dorsal fin is shorter than base of rayous part; some specimens have a black spot at the base of the tail), the Wavyline Grunt, Microlepidotus inornatus (narrow orange stripes that cover the complete body), and the Yelloweye Croaker, Odontoscion xanthops (rounded tail).
This fish species is considered to be an excellent food fish although it is very small in size.
It is a member of the Grunt or Haemulidae Family, known as “burros” in Mexico.