Fun Klipfish Facts For Kids

Ogrima Mukherjee
Jan 31, 2024 By Ogrima Mukherjee
Originally Published on Aug 26, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Check out these interesting klipfish facts!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.3 Min

Klipfish belong to the family Clinidae, the genus Clinus, and have 40 species in it. These fish are very similar looking and can be hard to differentiate. The male and female species look alike and cannot be identified easily. This species is viviparous. They are endemic to South African waters, near Cape Town, the Kei River, and surrounding estuaries. They are found in shallow rocky pools, reed beds, intertidal pools, subtidal gullies, and reefs under stones and rocks. They are marine and demersal. Their population has a wide range of distribution and is listed as of Least Concern. They mainly feed on crustaceans, fish, mollusks, and crabs. Klipfish shares their name with the salted and dried cod of Norway.

For more relatable content, check out these oilfish facts and lake whitefish facts for kids.

Klipfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a klipfish?

Klipfish are marine fish belonging to the Clinidae family.

What class of animal does a klipfish belong to?

Klipfish are bony fish belonging to the class Actinopterygii.

How many klipfishes are there in the world?

The exact number of klipfish is unknown; they are prevalent in South African waters, especially near Cape Town.

Where does a klipfish live?

They are endemic to South African waters, near Cape Town, such as the Kei River and its estuaries.

What is a klipfish's habitat?

Their natural habitats are shallow rocky pools, reed beds, intertidal pools, subtidal gullies, reefs, under stones, and rocks.

Who does klipfish live with?

Klipfish are spotted in schools of their own species, alone or in pairs. They are territorial and don't like to live with other species of fish.

How long does a klipfish live?

The lifespan of a klipfish is unknown.

How do they reproduce?

Klipfish are viviparous; the females of this species go through internal fertilization and give birth to fully developed juvenile klipfish.

What is their conservation status?

They are very commonly found in their distribution range and have an extensive range of klipfish species in the Clinidae family; thus, they are listed as of Least Concern by the IUCN. They have more than 10,000 mature individuals globally. Their population has seen a decline of less than 10% in the last 10 years or three generations.

Klipfish Fun Facts

What does klipfish look like?

Klipfish habitat preference roughly depends on the coloration of the fish, but they can also be found in contrasting habitats.

Male klipfish have a tall dorsal crest consisting of the first three spines, a deep notch in the membrane, followed by the rest of the dorsal fin. Females lack this tall crest and have a lower and rounded version. Their head is large compared to the body and slanted downward, with a large mouth and thick lips. Above the eyes, they have prominent whisker-like projections, called cirri, which are bushy in adult fish. They have a large variety in color; they can be found in white, yellow, orange, red, brown, and green. A dark mark on the upper operculum is commonly found in these fish. The patterns on their bodies vary with a few random distinct patterns; sometimes there is a lack of any design, uniform body color, a broad white-colored continuous or broken band which starts behind the eye and tapers near the caudal fin, or a pattern which is highly spotted and marked with colorful vertical and horizontal bars and bands. The head pattern also varies widely, while the eyes have body-colored irises. The large fan-like pectoral fins are body-colored with a translucent membrane.

The downward slanting head, large mouth, and thick lips are a feature klipfish have in common with the commercially popular codfish.

How cute are they?

Their small size and variety of colors are cute, but overall these fish are a little ugly. They are known to have charming behavior.

How do they communicate?

Information on how they communicate is sparse, but like most fish that live in schools, it can be assumed that they release pheromones in the water to establish dominance and social hierarchy.

How big is a klipfish?

The klipfish grows to a maximum of 12 in (30 cm) in length. They are three to four times the size of a clownfish and twice the size of a small cuttlefish.

How fast can a klipfish swim?

They swim best at moderate speeds in shallow water. The exact swimming speed of klipfish is unknown.

How much does a klipfish weigh?

The exact weight of klipfish is unknown, but judging by the size of the fish, they can weigh 1-4 lb (0.45-1.8 kg) at most. They weigh approximately the same as suckerfish.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names that are used to refer to male and female klipfish specifically. They are simply referred to as male klipfish or female klipfish.

What would you call a baby klipfish?

There are no specific names for baby klipfish; they are generally referred to as young klipfish or juveniles.

What do they eat?

The klipfish's diet commonly consists of amphipods, crabs, sea urchins, gastropods, mollusks, crustaceans, and other fish.

Are they poisonous?

No, none of the klipfish species are poisonous to humans or to other fish. They feed on small fish but do not use poison.

Would they make a good pet?

They are marine fish that are sometimes kept in aquariums but aren't very popular as pets. They are territorial and might get aggressive towards their tankmates and hurt them.

Did you know...

This fish species has lens eyes, like humans, instead of pinhole eyes. Lens eyes have greater resolution and image brightness. They have accommodation which meant that they can focus on a particular object by changing the lens position in the eye or using the muscles.

These fish live in rock beds and reefs, and in Afrikaans, 'klip' means 'rock'; therefore, they are appropriately named klipfish.

Dried and salted cod, a Norwegian specialty, shares its name with this fish. In Norway, it is called klippfisk, which is literally 'cliff-fish,' because the cod was traditionally dried outdoors on cliffs and other bare rock faces. This Norwegian specialty is both locally consumed and widely exported.

The 40 species of klipfish are very commonly caught in South African waters while fishing. The most frequently spotted species are super klipfish, the grass klipfish, and the bluntnose klipfish, of which super klipfish is the largest and most common.

How many eggs does klipfish lay?

Klipfish does not lay eggs; all klipfish from the Clinidae family are viviparous and undergo internal fertilization to give birth to live young or juvenile klipfish.

How many species of klipfish are there?

There are 40 species of klipfish in the Clinidae family and 19 species in the Clinus genus. They have similar physical characteristics and thus are difficult to differentiate between.

 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 fluke fish facts and blue chromis facts pages.

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

Klipfish Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Amphipods, crabs, sea urchins, gastropods, mollusks, crustaceans, other fish

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?

1-4 lb (0.45-1.8 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

subtidal and intertidal locations

Where Do They Live?

south africa, near Nambia and the Kei river

How Long Were They?

12 in (30 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Clinus superciliosus, Clinus robustus, Clinus heterodon

What Do They Look Like?

Large mouth, thick lips, tall dorsal crest in males, variable colors

Skin Type

Wet, slimy scales

What Are Their Main Threats?


What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Ogrima Mukherjee

Bachelor of Technology specializing in Computer Science

Ogrima Mukherjee picture

Ogrima MukherjeeBachelor of Technology specializing in Computer Science

Ogrima brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to her craft. With a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from GITAM University, she possesses a strong foundation in technology. However, her keen interest in writing has allowed her to leverage her skills and passion to create high-quality content in various niches. Ogrima's extensive experience in content writing and social media copywriting showcases her versatility and adaptability as a writer. Her ability to create engaging and well-researched articles tailored specifically for children sets her apart.

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