Kelp Surfperch

Kelp Surfperch

Brachyistius frenatus

Physical Description

The Kelp Surfperch, scientifically known as Brachyistius frenatus, typically reaches lengths of up to 20 centimeters, although specimens in Monterey are usually smaller. Sporting a shiny, kelp-colored exterior, this fish is characterized by its sharp, upturned snout and a relatively small mouth. Its dorsal fin extends forward on its body, adding to its distinct appearance.


Commonly observed along the eastern Pacific coast, the Kelp Surfperch prefers habitats near kelp canopies. Often found in groups, these fish navigate the water column close to the kelp canopy, utilizing the shelter and resources provided by the dense seaweed environment.

Geographical Range

The range of the Kelp Surfperch spans from British Columbia to Baja California, encompassing various coastal areas along the eastern Pacific coast. Within this range, it frequents nearshore waters, particularly those enriched with kelp forests where it finds abundant food and suitable shelter.

What They Eat

As visual picker-type predators, Kelp Surfperch primarily feed on small invertebrates that inhabit kelp surfaces. They also prey on zooplankton, utilizing their agile swimming abilities to capture prey efficiently. Additionally, Kelp Surfperch are live bearers, contributing to their reproductive strategy in coastal ecosystems.