Neck curved, with head at about right angle to body; snout elongate; coronet (crown-like structure on top of head) moderately high (lower in large males), tilted back, with 5 points, a high plate at front; promintent eye spine; a prominent down-pointed round cheek spine; tubercles generally well developed, but becoming obscure in large males; male with a slight keel on chest; body rings 11-12 + 38-40; dorsal fin large, its base elevated, 19-21 rays; pectorals small, 15-17 rays; anal fin small, 4 rays; tail prehensile, curlable, without a tail fin ; brood pouch on trunk.
Color variable according to its surroundings (weed, rock, coral, etc.); generally various shades of red, yellow, tan, brown, grey, black, or green; often with small blackish and white spots or whitish cross bands and lines.
Size: grows to about 30 cm.
Inhabits weed beds, sea-whips and gorgonians. Evidently also associates with flotsam because it has been collected at the surface and from the stomachs of tunas.
Depth: 1-60 m.
Southern California through the Gulf of California to Chile, including Cocos, Malpelo and the Galapagos.