Fun California Lizardfish Facts For Kids

Ayan Banerjee
Jan 31, 2024 By Ayan Banerjee
Originally Published on Aug 17, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
California lizardfish facts state that they are ambush predators.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.7 Min

The California lizardfish, often known as Synodus lucioceps, inhabits the Californian coast. In its natural environment, the sand bottom of the ocean, it is camouflaged by its long brown body. It ambushes tiny fish and squid from its hiding place on the bottom. Summer is considered to be the time when California lizardfish spawn.

Their name comes from their elongated cylindrical shape belly, with a head and jaws that resemble those of a lizard. There is a change in color from brown on the back to white on the ventral side. An adipose fin and a dorsal fin are located at a slight angle on its back, while the pelvic and caudal femurs are yellowish in color. Fish with lizard heads may reach 25.2 in (64 cm) in length and weigh up to 4 lb (1.8 kg). Our southern California pier-observed species did not reach 12 in (30.5 cm) in length this year, though. For more relatable content, check out these sucker fish facts and fluke fish facts for kids.

California Lizardfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a California lizardfish?

The California lizardfish belongs to the Synodus genus of fish.

What class of animal does a California lizardfish belong to?

This lizardfish (Synodus lucioceps) belongs to the Actinopterygii class.

How many California lizardfish are there in the world?

There has been no solid count of the number of existent California lizardfish in the world.

Where does a California lizardfish live?

Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco are the main locations where the California lizardfish are found. As far north as British Columbia, Canada, and south as the Galapagos Islands, several specimens have been discovered and also to the north of point conception. In shallow water from 5-150 ft (1.5-45.7 m), it is most often found on sandy bottoms, however, it has been recorded at depths up to 750 ft (228.6 m) in the past.

What is a California lizardfish's habitat?

The Synodus lucioceps chooses to stay in shallow and almost feet-deep waters to the sea, covering themselves with sand to catch their prey. The California lizardfish inhabits sandy and muddy bottoms at depths of 2-750 ft (0.6-228.6 m) of the Pacific Ocean. As the biggest species of lizardfish in Mexican waters, they may grow to a maximum length of 2 ft (0.6 m). They are often found on the coastal beach of northern California.

Who do California lizardfish live with?

The candlefish, another name of this lizardfish, live on their own, due to their predatorial habits.

How long does a California lizardfish live?

The identification of the latest lizardfish fossil has led scientists to come to the conclusion that a California lizardfish lives mostly up to nine years.

How do they reproduce?

The Synodus lucioceps mating period is mostly in the summer months starting from June and July. These lizardfish lay eggs to bring their young to the world. The young lizardfish have their identification in the form of black or blue spots right along their belly line.

What is their conservation status?

Officially the conservation status of the California lizardfish is Least Concern. However, their main threats lie in the form of humans. When humans are fishing for similar fish like halibut, the lizardfishes get caught in the line, and the humans thinking their bait worked pulls them out of the water. Their long sharp teeth, as well, make sure that the grip of the fish on the line does not break, causing them danger. There is a stable, widely dispersed population of the California lizardfish. As a result of their tiny jaws, they are rarely captured. In stature, they are little.

California Lizardfish Fun Facts

What do California lizardfish look like?

The California lizardfish has the characteristic lizard-like head and cylindrical body as entailed by its species or rather family. These fish have the head and body covered in dark brown, brown, or greenish-brown. If you are wondering about their teeth which is a big characteristic of the species of lizardfishes, you are absolutely right in guessing that they have sharp teeth in their mouth. Unlike their brethren the deep-sea lizardfish with their forked caudal fins and the elongated dorsal fins, the California lizardfish do not have a protruding smile filled with their movable teeth. There is a range of 11-15% more depth in the body of the California lizardfish. They are brown in hue, with cream and gray on the dorsum and a sudden pale ventral tint. Each has around eight irregular dark spots running down the mid-flank of its body. In addition, they have pale yellow colored gill membranes and pelvic fins; black adipose, caudal and pectoral fins with dark rays on them; and California lizardfish dorsal fins and anal fins are very transparent. Large, sharp teeth line the front of their mouth, which opens from the front. This fish's adipose fin is tiny and located just above it, while its anal fin has 11-14 rays and a large base that is equivalent in length to its dorsal fin base. Its caudal fin is forked.

California lizardfish fact states that their physical appearance helps them to camouflage.

*Please note that this is an image of an Atlantic lizardfish, a similar fish like California lizardfish. If you have an image of the California lizardfish please let us know at

How cute are they?

The Synodus lucioceps are cute in appearance for their small size.

How do they communicate?

They communicate through motion and gesture or through some signals.

How big is a California lizardfish?

Synodus lucioceps is about 25.2 in (64 cm) in length and weighs 4 lb (1.8 kg). They are 5 in (12.7 cm) longer than lizardfish.

How fast can a California lizardfish swim?

They are ferocious predators and so they swim very fast to catch the preys that pass by them.

How much does a California lizardfish weigh?

The California lizardfish can weigh up to 4 lb (1.8 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female lizardfish cannot be distinguished by names but by appearance. The male lizard fish have a more swollen base than females and have an enlarged pair of scales near their cloaca.

What would you call a baby California lizardfish?

A baby California fish does not have any specific names.

What do they eat?

The lizard fish are piscivores, and they have sharp teeth. They feed on smaller organisms and catch fish within their habitat. In addition to eating tiny fish and shrimp, they are ferocious ambush predators. The sea lions, in turn, prey on the lizardfish and seals. To catch prey in the form of tiny fish or colossal squid that swims by, the fish will dart upward and devour the prey completely.

Are they rare?

They are a rare species of fish to be found in the coastal regions of San Diego, Mexico. Their occurrence on the water surface is very occasional, so the details of their lifestyle and the behavioral pattern are still unknown to a great extent.

Would they make a good pet?

They are more consumed as seafood than kept as pets.

Did you know...

Sometimes, lizardfish are confused with California barracuda because of their long, pointed teeth and body shape. There are just two dorsal fins on a barracuda, and they're both the same size.

Often, in the Pacific region to catch halibut sometimes lizardfish are used as bait.

Can you eat California lizardfish?

Yes, you can eat lizardfish and they taste good. But they are not eaten very often.

How do you catch a California lizardfish?

Catching the fish is very simple from the California lizardfish bay area. Just pick one up by the tail and as long as the fish is rigid, it will stretch straight from your palm. There are pelvic and pectoral fins on the fish's body, and dorsal and adipose fins on the fish's head and tail. Fishing for lizardfish is not a popular sport. They attack bait meant for other fish, which is irritating. Lizardfish are attracted to a bait that is constantly moving. Squid, pile worms, and sabikis are also considered popular bait, which you should cut into little pieces before using. Anglers catch the fish when they are fishing for other species because it hits nearly every lizardfish bait used in the process of catching other species.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our Pacific cod interesting facts and longhorn cowfish facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable california lizardfish coloring pages.

*Please note that the main image is of a lizardfish and not California lizardfish specifically. If you have an image of the California lizardfish please let us know at

California Lizardfish Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Small fish

What Type of Animal were they?

Small fish

Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?

4 lb (1.8 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

shallow water, coastal region, sandy bottoms of mexico to the seas of british columbia

Where Do They Live?

mexico, mexican guaymas, san francisco, british columbia, california, san diego

How Long Were They?

25.2 in (64 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Synodus lucioceps

What Do They Look Like?


Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

fishing anglers and pier fishermen

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Ayan Banerjee

Bachelor of Science specializing in Nautical Science

Ayan Banerjee picture

Ayan BanerjeeBachelor of Science specializing in Nautical Science

Thanks to his degree in nautical science from T.S. Chanakya, IMU Navi Mumbai Campus, Ayan excels at producing high-quality content across a range of genres, with a strong foundation in technical writing. Ayan's contributions as an esteemed member of the editorial board of The Indian Cadet magazine and a valued member of the Chanakya Literary Committee showcase his writing skills. In his free time, Ayan stays active through sports such as badminton, table tennis, trekking, and running marathons. His passion for travel and music also inspire his writing, providing valuable insights.

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