Chromis punctipinnis

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The Blacksmith is a small, thick-bodied fish common to the Eastern Pacific, especially off the coast of California. Blacksmiths can be identified by their blue-black bodies with black dots that run toward the forked tail. Younger Blacksmiths are usually blue-black with a light brown or orange-colored tail. The Blacksmith is a reef fish that will often inhabit rocky channels or kelp forests. These areas provide both shelter and abundant food for communities of interconnected species. Many of these animals will form symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships. Blacksmiths will often be seen in the same areas as the brightly-colored SeƱoritas. When Blacksmiths turn their bodies upwards, the SeƱoritas will groom them by nibbling away parasites. These types of cleaning behaviors are common to reef fish all over the world.

During the day, Blacksmiths will form into large schools to feed on zooplankton in the open ocean. After dark, however, they will return to the safety of the reef or kelp forest, often hiding on ledges or in caves to avoid detection by predators. Their natural predators include larger fish, seals, sea lions and various birds.

Range and Habitat

Blacksmiths are found along rocky reefs, steep embankments, and in kelp forests. They can be found at as far north as Monterey Bay, California, and as far south as Baja California, Mexico.

Conservation Status

Common. Although they are sometimes eaten by people, their small size makes them an undesirable sport fish.