Pacific Sanddab (Citharichthys sordidus)

A member of the Bothidae family of left-eyed flatfish, the Pacific sanddab is an excellent food fish that has both commercial significance and a popular sportfishing following. This species is often listed on the seafood menus of California restaurants and is viewed by some as a delicacy.


The body of the Pacific sanddab is oblong and compressed. The head is deep, and the eyes are large and on the left side. The color is light brown, mottled with yellow and orange on the eyed side and white on the blind side.

The Pacific sanddab can be distinguished from the longfin sanddab by the length of the pectoral fin on the eyed side. It is always shorter than the head of the Pacific sanddab and longer than the head of the longfin. Sanddabs are always left-eyed and can be distinguished from other left-eyed flatfish by their lateral lines, which are nearly straight for their entire length.


These fish may reach 16 inches and 2 pounds but are common to just 10 inches in size and under a half-pound.

Spawning behavior

Females are larger than males and normally mature at age 3, at roughly 8 inches in length. They produce numerous eggs, and each fish probably spawns more than once in a season. The peak of the spawning season is July through September.


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

Other Names

mottled sanddab, sole, sanddab, soft flounder, megrim; Spanish: lenguado.


Pacific sanddabs occur in the eastern Pacific from the Sea of Japan, the Aleutian Islands, and the Bering Sea to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico. They are common in shallow coastal water from British Columbia to California.


These flatfish are found on sand bottoms in water that ranges from 30 to 1,800 feet deep, but they are most abundant at depths of 120 to 300 feet.