California Lizardfish
Synodus lucioceps

Physical Description

  • Long, skinny, cylindrical, fish
  • Flat, lizard-like head, snout is almost triangular
  • Long, pointed teeth
  • Mostly brown, greenish-brown coloring with copper coloring on sides and lighter grey belly
  • Lower jaw and fins yellow
  • Up to 25 inches in length


  • Cape Beal, British Columbia to Guaymas, Mexico
  • Gulf of California, Mexico


  • Shallow, sandy areas
  • Common from depths of 5150 feet, but up to 750 feet


  • Squid, topsmelt, anchovies, krill, and other small fishes
  • They are ambush predators who sit on the bottom until prey swims past


  • California sea lion

Interesting Facts

  • Because of its appearance, it is often called the candlefish.
  • The USS Lizardfish was a Navy submarine during World War II that successfully engaged in several battles. The sleek sub was named for the long, slender fish! 

Sources:; California Department of Fish and Wildlife; Dana Point Fishing Company

Photo: Herb Gruenhagen

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