Latin name

Paralichthys californicus

Other names

Flatty, flattie, fly swatter (small), barn door (large), alabato, Monterey halibut, chicken halibut, southern halibut, California flounder, bastard halibut, portsider; Spanish: lenguado de California.


The body of the California halibut is oblong and compressed. The head is small and the mouth large. Although a member of the left-eyed flounder family, about 40 percent of California halibut have their eyes on the right side. The color is dark brown to black on the eyed side and white on the blind side. The gill rakers are slender and numerous, totaling about 29 on the first arch. Its numerous teeth, its very large mouth, and a high arch in the middle of the “top” side above the pectoral fin make it easily distinguishable from other flatfish.


This species occurs from Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico, to the Quillayute River, British Columbia. A separate population exists in the Gulf of California in Mexico.


California halibut are found mostly on sandy bottoms, sometimes appearing behind the surf line, in bays and estuaries. They live from shore to 600 feet deep, but are most often caught in depths of 60-120 feet. They are not known to make extensive migrations.


The largest California halibut was 5 feet long and weighed 72 pounds. The record halibut caught on a rod and reel weighed 59 pounds 9 ounces. Females grow larger, live longer and are more abundant than males. In California, these fish average between 8 and 20 pounds. 20-pound individuals are considered large, and fish over 30 pounds are considered trophies.

Life history and Behavior

Males become sexually mature at the age of 2-3 years and females at the age of 4-5 years. The 5-year-old fish can range in length from 11 to 17 inches. Spawning occurs in shallow water from April through July, with spawning fish actively feeding.

Food and feeding habits

Feed mainly on anchovies and similar small fish, during the daytime. Also consume squid, crustaceans, and mollusks.


No information

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Pleuronectiformes
Family Paralichthyidae
Genus Paralichthys
Species P. californicus
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat bottom
Life span, years No information
Maximum body weight, kg 23
Maximum length, cm No information
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating predator

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Halibut, California

Tags: Halibut, California