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The brown rockfish has a body colored in various shades of brown. In this species, the background color is overlaid with dark-brown, red-brown, or blackish mottling. The rear area of the gill cover has a prominent dark patch which probably inspired its Latin name auriculatus, meaning "eared". This blotch may become faint in larger specimens. Stripes of red-brown, brown, or orange radiate back from the upper jaw and eyes. Brown rockfish in Puget Sound and off central California commonly have coronal spines, while in southern California waters, these spine are generally absent. The brown rockfish often resembles the copper rockfish, but the latter lack the dark patch on their gill cover and have lighter areas along their lateral line. The brown rockfish may also be confused with the vermillion rockfish in deep water, and the grass rockfish in shallow water. Along the Pacific coast of the United States, more than one population of these fish may exist. The brown rockfish can grow to about 56 cm (22.0 in) in length, with the females being potentially larger than the males. Both sexes have similar growth rates and life spans, and are known to live to at least 34 years of age.
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