Pacific Sand Perch, Diplectrum pacificum: The Pacific Sand Perch has a long slender body, overall tan coloration, white belly, and a head covered with orange spots. The head of the Pacific Sand Perch has a narrow bony cheek spur (preoperculum) with five to eight long spines.
The Pacific Sand Perch has a series of nine dark bars along the lower half of the body. The caudal fin has five rows of spots and the top border is red and the lower border is white. The dorsal fins have two rows of spots. Adults have a large pink blotch on the abdomen above and just in front of the anus, a large purple spot on the gill covers, and a black spot at the top of the base of the tail.
The juvenile Pacific Sand Perch has a mid-lateral white line (as pictured below) which fades as it matures.
The maximum length for the Pacific Sand Perch is reported to be 28.0 cm (11.0 inches) but we have collected a fish that is 28.5 cm (11.2 inches) extending the known maximum length for this species.
They are found over sandy bottoms at depths up to 400 feet. As it is a small, rare, and deep water species, not much is known about its behavior.
This fish species can be easily confused with a series of eight very similar Sand Perches, all of the Diplectrum Genus, and a correct identification is very difficult without professional help.
In Mexican fishing waters the Pacific Sand Perch is found from Magdalena Bay south along the Pacific side of Baja California, throughout the Sea of Cortez, and along the coastal Mexican mainland south to Guatemala. However, it appears to be absent from the oceanic islands.
The Pacific Sand Perch is a member of the Serranidae Family which includes perches, groupers and sea basses which in Mexican fishing areas are known as cabrillas and meros.