Marbled Rock Fish

by N. Takimiya

Do you know the fish that we can fish easily and is delicious to eat ? Its scientific name is Sebastiscus marmoratus better known the Marbled rock fish. This fish is loved by many people the old days in Japan and has eaten many people. So this fish has as many as 13 dialect names, gashira,  or gare in the Kansai area; bokka in the San’in region, bokkou in Shimane, akamebaru, akatinn in Okayama, gakane in Tokushima, hogo in Hirosima and Ehime, gagara, hogo in Miyazaki , arakabu , garakabu, gabu in Kumamoto and Kagoshima.

Description & Taxonomy

The fish grows to a maximum total length 30cm and weights of 2.8kg. It’s body color is usually seen in the light-colored irregularly shaped spots on the brown-red back, the body colors and patterns are due to mutations in habitat and populations. This body coloration is a kind of the adjustment that comes not to be found easily from the enemy and the catch by the color matched to the rock and the seaweed. The body coloration is different according to the place where it lives. For instance, the fish that lives in a shallow place has the color of the rock and the seaweed.

This is on the other hand because of a body red color’s being counterbalanced to blue light of the environment and seeing a sober gray, and becoming a protective coloration the fish that lives in the depth is vivid red in a blue sea.

The section of the body is round, eyes are small, and the fish’s mouth is also bigger than the rockfish. To fish, it is necessary to take care because there are sharp barbs on the fins.

This fish belong to Scoroaeniformes, suborder Scorpaeniformes, family Scorpaenidae, subfamily Sebastinae, genus Sebastiscus, species S.marmoratus. The origin of the generic name comes from Sebastos of Greek, and the trivial name comes from Latin that means the marbling.

Range & Ecology

It is found from Hokkaido to the southern Penninsula, China, Taiwan, and Philippine waters until distributed. In Kochi, S.marmoratus lives off of the Katsurahama beach, and in Urado Bay.

It lives in the area of reef near the coast, hollows of rock and tetra jar and port surroundings to about 200 m depth and lurks in the shadows during the day, strike out looking for food at night.

Also it is an ovoviviparous animal and mates in autumn and produce tens of thousands of small fish in 1~3 months later. The fingerling in the mother’s grows up in the nutrient of the yolk. It lives in outside body in April ~Novemver.

S.marmoratus eats the mussel worm, the crustacean, and the fingerling.

Use & Conservation

S.marmoratus is very delicious because this fish puts on much fat. So this fishes are used cooking, slowly in a soy broth, deep-flying, broil that has been srinkled with salt. Actually, I have eaten my father caught by deep-flying and it was very delicious. But the supermarket and fish shop cannot see so much because the price might be high.
Many S.marmoratus exists sea of Japan. But the protection activity is actively done.

Let’s introduce you two activities. One is in Nagasaki, in the southern part of Ariake Sea, the resource management activity of  S.marmoratus that the haul is in the decreasing tendency every year is done. The other is being done by TOYO SUISAN. Those activities are in both regions and the fry discharge activities and come from a idea to achieve a rich sea-making for the future.


If you would like to see S.marmoratus, you can see to go fishing in shallows. This fish can be caught even by the beginner. In Kochi, you can see it in The Takaoka fishing port, The Yoshikawa port, Katsurahama, Muroto, Urado. Let’s fish also by you holding out.

Web Resources (in Japanese)


  1. I am surprised by this article. I did not know Rock fish is protected in Japan.
    In my home town. Rock fish is very populor fish and be sold in many shops.
    But, it is not truth in all japan. that is little shoking.


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