Kelp Clingfish

by Hannah Hayworth

Scientific Name: Rimicola muscarum

Size range: Up to 8 cm (3 inches)

Editors Note:  We have accidentally been showing photos of the Manacled Sculpin (Synchirus gilli) on this page for a number of years.  We mistakenly identified it as the Kelp Clingfish (Rimicola muscarum).  In our defense the two species often have similar colouration, and can be found clinging to kelp.  We will upload some photos of the actual Kelp Clingfish soon and create a new web page with the Manacled Sculpin.

Identifying features
Kelp Clingfish have a slender body that’s flat at the head and tapers toward the tail. They have a single dorsal fin well back on the body and a small suction disk underneath. They are usually the colour of kelp (ranging from green to brown) but are sometimes banded with red, gray, or orange. Kelp Clingfish are small and grow up to 3 inches. They mostly cling to kelp, occasionally moving for shelter.

These fish can be found in the Pacific Ocean, throughout the coast of British Columbia and down to California.   They are not usually found in intertidal pools but are often found on the blades of kelp growing from the edges of dock.  They also love to rest on the blades of Bull Kelp in more open water.

Kelp Clingfish feed on small creatures like crustaceans, snails, worms, and shrimp.  The ones we have had in our aquarium prefer to feed by hovering around the top water column and quickly grow to like chopped up krill or whole mysid shrimp.

They must watch out for predators like shorebirds, mammals, and fish larger than them. However, Kelp Clingfish do have hiding and camouflage advantages, as they usually can blend into their habitat.

Life Cycle
Clingfish generally mature when they are around 8 cm long. They lay relatively large eggs in groups of 2 dozen or more. They’re laid on fronds of giant kelp. Young Clingfish are similar in appearance to adults, just smaller.


Bailly, N. (2012). Rimicola muscarum. Meek & Pierson

Hart, J. (1988). Pacific Fishes of Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Government Publishing

(2011) The Regents of the University of California. Retrieved January 14th, 2013 from;NAAN=13030&doc.view=frames&

Rock, J. (2010) Kelp Clingfish. Oceana. Retrieved January 14’th, 2013 from