In shallow water, the sailfin sculpin waves its first dorsal fin back and forth in synchrony with the motion of adjacent seaweeds in the surge. Between waves of the dorsal fin, the sailfin hops forward by rippling the second dorsal fin and sculling with the pectoral fins. In captivity, sailfins that have never experienced any surge perform the same combination of hopping forward between sweeps of the first dorsal fin. This disruptive mimicry of seaweed obscures the movement of the fish and may enable close approach to prey. This species is nocturnally active.

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