California Halibut – Paralichthys californicus. Other names: chicken halibut, Southern halibut, flatties.


Identifying Characteristics and Biology

  • The California halibut is a flat fish – with eyes on one side of the head. This species is unique in that their eyes can migrate to either side of the fish. Even though the California halibut is a member of the left-eyed flounder family, about 40 percent of California halibut have their eyes on the right side. (1.)
  • Unlike other flatfishes, the California halibut has lots of teeth.
  • Typically, the side with the eyes has mottled colors of dark brown to black, and the blind side – white.
  • The key identifying characteristic between this halibut and others is its high arch on its lateral line. 
  • The fish can grow to 5 feet in length, and up to 72 lbs. in weight

Range and Habitat

  • Typical range: Northern Washington state to Southern Baja California, from between the shore line to about 600 feet out (most commonly found about 5 feet to 180 feet from shore).
  • Look for the California halibut on sandy bottoms, near rocks and artificial reefs.

Market Forms

  • The California halibut is found fresh, and frozen in fillets and steaks.


Love, Milton. Probably More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast. Santa Barbara: Really Big Press, 1996. Print.

Kutyrev, O. and A. Sherwood 2012. “Paralichthys californicus” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed February 19, 2014 at

(1.) “Marine Sportfish Identification: Flatfishes.” Marine Sportfish Identification: Flatfishes. CA Dept. Fish and Wildlife, 17 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.



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