Animals & Exhibits    >    Animal Guide    >    Fishes    >   


Speckled sanddab (citharichthys stigmaeus)

On Exhibit: Monterey Bay Habitats

Animal Facts

  • Scientific Name

    Citharichthys spp

  • Animal Type


  • Diet

    worms, shrimp, squid, fishes

  • Size

    some species grow to 16 inches long (40.6 cm), while others rarely reach 6 inches (15.2 cm).

  • Relatives

    halibut, sole, flounders; Phylum: Chordata; Family: Bothidae

Natural History

Like other flatfishes, sanddabs spend their lives lying on their sides. Shuffling into the sand, they cover themselves, often until only their eyes protrude. Both predators and prey (not to mention aquarium visitors) overlook these masters of camouflage.


A popular food fish in California, larger sanddabs are taken by sport and commercial fishermen. Most commercial sanddab is fished with bottom trawl; gear that can have negative impacts on the marine environment.

Cool Facts

Sanddabs and other flatfishes are quick-change artists. More convincing than a chameleon, they change color and pattern to match their surroundings.

 Animal Guide Home