Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

California Halibut

Paralichthys californicus


Fun Facts

    The California halibut is a flatfish with both eyes on one side of its head!

    The largest recorded halibut caught is 5 feet long.




The California halibut is a type of flatfish that lives in shallow sandy habitats. The body is dark brown to black on the eyed side and white on the blind side. This species of flatfish can be either right- or left-eyed. Their numerous teeth, very large mouth and a high arch in the lateral line on the eyed-side above the pectoral fin make them easily distinguishable from other flatfish. California halibut occur from Magdalena Bay, Baja California, to the Quillayute River, British Columbia.

California halibut feed on anchovies, sardines, other small fishes, crustaceans and mollusks. Males first mature about 2 or 3 years of age, but females do not mature until 4 or 5. Female California halibut grow faster than male California halibut. A 22 inch female is about 5 years old and a 22 inch male is about 7 years old. Spawning takes place in relatively shallow water during April through July. Larval fish hatch with eyes on each side of the head, but one eye migrates to the other side as the young mature and the fish settle near the sea floor.

California halibut are usually found at the Aquarium in tank number 22.