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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • California Kelp Forest Habitat (Cold Water Quest)

Range / Habitat

  • Blacksmith occurs in the Eastern Pacific from Monterey Bay to Central Baja California, although it is most common from Point Conception southward.
  • This is a very abundant mid-water fish that is found over structures (such as rocky reefs and oil platforms) in near shore waters, around reefs and kelp beds.
  • Can be found at depths from near-surface to about 151 feet (46 m).

Physical Characteristics

  • Blacksmith’s body is gray-blue or gray on the sides with black spots toward the rear.
  • A male guarding the nest is very light colored – almost white – with a dark bar through each eye.
  • The juvenile is blue-gray in the front of the body and brassy-orange at the rear.
  • Can reach up to 10 inches (25 cm) in length.

Diet / Feeding

  • Adult blacksmith feeds in mid-water during the day on zooplankton, such as copepods, crustacean eggs and larvae.
  • Young obtains some of its food by “cleaning,” picking parasites from other fish.

Reproduction / Growth

  • During breeding season, the male cleans a nest site (under overhangs or in small caves in rocky reefs) and guards the eggs until they hatch.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Blacksmith is a major “customer” of cleaner fish, especially the females.
  • During the day, large schools with hundreds of individuals can be found over most reefs.
  • Adults tend to hang out at the incurrent side of the reefs, waiting for zooplankton, while the young are usually found near the bottom, close to places of refuge.
  • At night, most blacksmith find shelter in crevices or on sand near the crevices.  It is a gregarious species: many individuals will gather into a small cave.

Probably More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast. Love, M., pgs. 278 - 279
Pacific Coast Inshore Fishes. Gotshall, D. W., pg. 85