Plainfin Midshipman

In Fish, Harbor and Bay, Slough Life, Tidal Channels by Administrator

Quick Facts

Scientific Name: Porichthys notatus
Family: Batrachoididae
(Toadfishes)

Found at Elkhorn Slough

Salt waterways

Did you know…

Male plainfin midshipman produce a loud, droning hum during mating season that can be heard by humans nearby.

The plainfin midshipman is a very interesting fish found here at the Elkhorn Slough. Also referred to as our local “toad fish,” they visit the slough for breeding and juvenile growth. Adults usually live in depths of around 400m most of the year, but venture into shallow intertidal locations during spring and early summer for breeding.

Males can produce a “hum” to attract females to their nesting site. This loud droning hum can be heard by nearby humans. These fish are to blame from past stories of “generator-like” noise complaints in Sausalito, CA.

After successfully attracting a female, she will lay her eggs and leave the nest. The males will fertilize the eggs and stay to attend the nest, as seen in this picture. The rock has been raised to reveal many tiny fish and their protective father.

These fish have hundreds of photophores along their body which are used to produce light for attracting prey at great depths.

Kenton Parker and Cortland Jordan at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve checked in on the development of these fish from beginning stages of egg masses to early juvenile development as you will see in the video below.

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Video / Photos