These beautiful fish are often confused with a close relative – Canary Rockfish – which are usually more “washed out” looking than the Vermilion Rockfish. As the name implies, the best way to identify the Vermilion Rockfish is to think “red” as they range in color from bright red to orange-red. Their fins are a very deep red color. The Vermilion may also be differentiated by black edging along its fins and a more rounded pectoral fin.
Though mostly solitary, they will occasionally move in small schools. In general, these fish prefer colder, shallower waters. The Vermilion Rockfish will eat small fish, octopus, squid, and krill.
This rockfish is a very popular sport and commercial fish. It ranks third among the rockfish species caught in California. They are often caught in trawl catches or by gill net, hook and line. The fish are then filleted and the products reach the market with other “rockfish.”
They are most commonly found from northern California southward. The Vermilion Rockfish is found in rocky reefs and other areas where there are plenty of large boulders and stones to hide among. The young will live in more shallow water, usually in kelp beds, while the adults will live in deeper water up to 900 feet (274 m). Most of their time is spent upon the ocean bottom.