Saltwater Fish, Pacific Northwest
The grunt sculpin is a small fish but it has a very large head, a high forehead and a long snout ending in a small mouth. The eyes are small and deep set. It is a strange looking little fellow, to say the least. On the other hand, I think they are also very beautiful little fish as well.
They are a creamy yellow color on the back and sides with brown blotches on the head and narrow brown bars running downward and forward on the body. There is red on the first part of the dorsal, tail, anal and pectoral fins. There is orange on the ventral fins and lower rays of the pectoral fins. There is a black spot the base of each ray of the pectoral fin.
They can be found from Alaska to Northern California including all of the BC coastal region. Though the grunt sculpin is a relatively common fish on the coast of BC, you will hardly ever see them, they blend in very well to their terrain. The grunt sculpin prefers shallow water along rocky shores, although it has been seen at 90 fathoms. Look in tide pools, you could get lucky and spot one there.
Sometimes when the grunt sculpin is removed from the water, it makes a grunting sound. That is where they get their name.
These little fish, never bigger than 9 cm, have evolved to look like a giant barnacle, they will take up residence in an empty shell and when they are facing out, their pointy nose looks just like a closed barnacle, when they are facing in, their tail looks like an open barnacle, quite fascinating to see.
When its time to mate, a female will chase a male into a crevice and keep him there until she mates and lays eggs.