Pile Surfperch

Pile Surfperch

Rhacochilus vacca

Physical Description

Pile Surfperch, scientifically known as Rhacochilus vacca, can grow up to 44 centimeters in length. They are recognized by their deeply forked tails and long soft rays on the second dorsal fin. Their coloration ranges from silvery to gray or brownish above, with a lighter silver tone on the ventral side. A distinguishing feature is the dark vertical bar often present on their sides, accompanied by a white patch near the dorsum.


These surfperch are commonly found over rocky substrates near kelp forests or pilings. They exhibit a preference for solitary or group inhabitation, utilizing the shelter and resources provided by rocky coastal environments. Pile Surfperch are well adapted to navigating the complex structures of rocky habitats, where they find ample food and suitable breeding grounds.

Geographical Range

The distribution of Pile Surfperch spans from Southeast Alaska to north-central Baja California along the eastern Pacific coast. Within this range, they inhabit nearshore waters, particularly those with rocky substrates where they can find abundant food sources and appropriate shelter.

What They Eat

Pile Surfperch primarily feed on hard-shelled invertebrates present in their rocky coastal habitats. They use their specialized feeding adaptations to extract prey from crevices and rocky surfaces. Additionally, they are live bearers, contributing to the population dynamics of coastal ecosystems.