Penpoint Gunnel

Author: Oscar Schuckel-Bailey

Photos by Oscar Schuckel-Bailey and D. Young

Common name: Penpoint Gunnel

Scientific name: Apodichthys flavidus

Size range: The Penpoint Gunnel can grow up to 46 centimetres (18 inches)

Identifying features: Penpoint Gunnels can be a range of colours, from wine red to emerald green to golden brown. They are elongated fish with long and low dorsal fins.  They lack pelvic fins and can be differentiated from their close relative, the Rockweed Gunnel (Xerepes Fucorum) by having slightly larger pectoral fins and a more distinct eye bar (this stripe is usually vertical, although in some cases it occasionally can be horizontal). 

Habitat: Penpoint Gunnels are often found in either the subtidal or intertidal zones. Their colouring largely depends upon their food and as adults they hide in matching seaweed or seagrass; green with sea lettuce or eelgrass, red with red seaweeds and brown with similar brown/golden kelp. They also often hide under rocks during high tide.

Food: Penpoint Gunnels prey on small crustaceans, polychaetes, mollusks as well as fish eggs.

Predators: As they are small fish, Penpoint Gunnels have a lot of predators including sea birds, River Otters and larger fishes such as adult salmon. Their primary method of defense would be their camouflage and their ability to fit in small cracks and crannies.


De Forest, L. G., & Busby, M. S. (1970, January 1). Development of larval and early juvenile penpoint Gunnel (Apodichthys Flavidus) (family: Pholidae). Welcome to AquaDocs. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from

Gunnel and prickleback care purpose: Policy: Responsibility: Procedure. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2023, from

Lamb, A.  & Edgell, P. (1986). Coastal Fishes of the Pacific Northwest. Harbour Publishing.

Lamb, A., Penpoint Gunnel • Apodichthys Flavidus. Biodiversity of the Central Coast. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2023, from

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