Abbreviated Life History of Rock Greenling
(Hexagrammos lagocephalus)

Rock Greenling

The rock greenling is in the family Hexagrammidae and is closely related to the kelp greenling, both taxonomically and morphologically. It is reddish-brown with darker mottling and often has large bright-red blotches on the sides. The inside of the mouth is bluish.

Distribution, Stock Structure and Migration

The rock greenling ranges from the Bering Sea to Point Conception, but also occurs in the western Pacific Ocean south to Japan. In California, this species is infrequently observed south of San Francisco. Little is known about their stock structure. Similar to kelp greenling, adults are territorial.

Age and Growth

No data are available from California. Rock greenlings have been aged to a maximum of 8 yr for males and 11 yr for females. Total lengths corresponding to these male and female ages were 11.9 in. TL and 22.4 in. TL, respectively.

Reproduction, Fecundity and Seasonality

No data are available from California. However, data from the western Pacific Ocean indicate that approximately one half of all male and female rock greenlings are sexually mature at age 3-4 and a length of 11.4 to 13.8 inches. In the Aleutian Islands, the spawning season extends from June through August. Females are oviparous, or egg-laying. Nest guarding by rock greenling has not been documented.


Based on co-occurrence with adult and juvenile rock greenling, demersal fishes associated with kelp beds and reef structure likely to compete with rock greenling for food and space would include lingcod, cabezon, kelp greenling, and rockfish species such as grass, China, quillback, copper, and vermilion.

Critical Habitat

Juveniles and adults frequent subtidal habitats in or around rocky reef areas and under kelp beds.

Status of Stocks

There are no estimates of abundance for rock greenling in California.

Information on this page was originally presented in the Nearshore Fishery Management Plan (these profiles updated July, 2010).