Longfin Sanddab (Citharichthys xanthostigma)

A member of the Bothidae family of left-eyed flatfish, the longfin sanddab is a small but common bottom-fishing catch by anglers, particularly in Southern California.


The body of the longfin sanddab is oblong and compressed. The head is deep, the eyes are large and located on the left side, and the mouth is large. The color is uniformly dark with rust-orange or white speckles, and the pectoral fin is black on the eyed side. The blind side is white.

This species can be distinguished from the Pacific sanddab by the length of the pectoral fin on the eyed side, which is always shorter than the head on the Pacific sanddab and longer than the head on the longfin. Sanddabs are always left-eyed and can be distinguished from all other left-eyed flatfish by having a lateral line that is nearly straight along its entire length.


These fish are common to 10 inches in length but are reported to reach a maximum length of 153⁄4 inches.

Spawning behavior

Females are larger than males and normally mature when 3 years old and roughly 7.5 inches long. They produce numerous eggs, and each fish probably spawns more than once a season. The peak of the spawning season is July through September.


The diet of longfin sanddabs is wide ranging and includes small fish, squid, octopus, shrimp, crabs, and worms.

Other Names

sanddab, soft flounder, Catalina sanddab; Spanish: lenguado alón.


Longfin sanddabs occur in the eastern Pacific from Costa Rica to Monterey, California, including the Gulf of California. They are rare north of Santa Barbara.


These flatfish usually dwell on sand or mud bottoms from 8 to 660 feet deep.