Pacific Sanddab, Citharichthys sordidus: The Pacific Sanddab is a master at camouflage, rapidly changing colors to match the substrate. In general it is a small, brown, flat fish that is left-eyed. The Pacific Sanddab has a mottled appearance with subtle orange, red-brown, or yellow spots. A key to identification is the length of the eye-side pectoral fin which, when extended forward, reaches the eyes.
The Pacific Sanddab normally has black anal, caudal, and dorsal fins; the tail is rounded. It is very similar in appearance to the Longfin Sanddab, Citharichthys xanthostigma (pelvic fin reaches the tip of the snout), and the Speckled Sanddab, Citharichthys stigmaeus (shorter pelvic fin and covered with small black dots).
Note: The sanddabs can be differentiated from the flounders by having a straight lateral line, which is unique to sanddabs.
TThe Pacific Sanddab is found over soft sand or mud bottoms in areas ranging from very shallow water to water 1,800 feet deep. It has been observed cruising up to at least 10 feet above the ocean floor. It reaches a maximum length of 16 inches but is commonly between 6 and 12 inches long. Males reach 12 inches in length and have a life span of 6 years; females are much larger, up to 17 inches and 4.5 pounds, with life spans up to 9 years.
This fish species is a non-migratory species normally spending its entire life within a 2-mile circle. Viewed as an excellent food fish, although small, the Pacific Sanddab is an important target species of some anglers including pier fishermen and to some extent commercial fishermen.
It ranges from Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico, to the Bering Sea. It consumes cocepods, small fish, krill, shrimp, and small worms.
The Pacific Sanddab is a member of the Paralichthyidae Family, which includes flounders and sanddabs, all of which are left-eyed, with 220 species globally. The Pacific sanddab is a member of the Citharichthys Genus which includes 26 species of sanddabs globally, six of which are found in Mexican waters.