Fantail Sole
Xystreurys liolepsis

Physical Description

  • Flatfish with both eyes on the top of the fish
  • Uniform brown color on top, with tiny blue spots and two dark brown spots
  • Young fish have more spotting and mottling (spots and smears)
  • Small mouth 
  • Can grow up to 21 inches long


  • Monterey Bay, California to Gulf of California, Mexico
  • Most common from central Baja California to southern Baja California


  • Sandy and muddy environments
  • Sandy spots among kelp beds, eelgrass beds, or rocks
  • Depths of 0-446 feet, but most commonly depths of 20164 feet
  • Often buries into sand or mud on the bottom


  • Almost exclusively crabs, but also worms, mollusks, small shrimp, squid, and some other crustaceans


  • Sharks, marine mammals, and larger fanfish 

Interesting Facts

  • When fantail sole are young, they swim upright and have eyes on both sides of their head. As they get older, they settle to the bottom and one eye moves to the other side of their body! 

Sources: California Finfish and Shellfish Identification Book;; NOAA Fisheries

Photo: Herb Gruenhagen

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