Saltwater Fish, Pacific Northwest
The Red Irish Lord fish is a thickly built fish with an long, wide body, very large head and a big mouth.
The body of the red Irish lord is mostly red, with white, brown and black mottling. It has a large head and bulging eyes. It has up to 12 dorsal spines, 20 dorsal soft rays, and 35 vertebrae. The distinguishing features of this species are; it has a continuous dorsal fin notched after the third spine and again between the spinous and soft rays, the nostrils do not have fleshy flaps, and the preopercular spines are comparatively small. A stripe of scales four or five wide below the dorsal fin is followed by an unscaled area to the lateral line, then a second band of scales beneath the lateral line.
They are a dull to brilliant red color on the dorsal surface and are mottled with a brownish red color on ventral surface. There are pale rusty color to black color spots all over. The red irish lord can change its color to match its surroundings.
They can reach up to 75 cm in length. Despite the bright colors, these fish are very hard to see against rocky bottoms where they reside.
They can be found from Alaska to Northern California including all of the BC Coastal Region. Look for them in tidal pools at low tide. They can be found at depths that reach 275 meters but prefers more shallow locations where it hides among the various other forms of sea life. They can become almost invisible when they are still, its a very cool fish to spot, quite beautiful.
These colorful fish lay their eggs in inter tidal areas during the spring. Adults feed on crabs, barnacles, and mussels.