Emerald Sea Photography
The painted greenling (Oxylebius pictus), is the smallest of the Greenlings found in our waters. It is a very colorful and common fish that is both fun to watch and a favorite of photographers. This colorful little fish ranges from Kodiak Island, Alaska to central Baja California.
The Painted Greenling is most commonly seen sitting still in and around rocky substrate. The fish is very rarely caught on baited hook due to its diet of crustaceans, polychaetes, small mollusks and bryozoans. It is also commonly referred to as the Convict Fish.
Painted Greenlings grow to 10" in length and are usually grayish to brown with 5–7 distinctive red or reddish-brown bars extending onto fins. Three dark bands radiate from each eye (1 forward, 2 backward). The also have very distinctive cirri above their eyes that is often more easily seen in photographs than while diving.
These fish are very prolific and common, and I would be hard pressed to think of a local dive site where you won’t find them. During the breeding season the color of the male will darken considerably, making it very easy to differentiate between the sexes, much like their cousins, the kelp greenlings.