Sea Bass

Last updated: January 24, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Adnan Buyuk/Shutterstock.com

Sea bass can grow up to 880 pounds in weight!

Sea Bass Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Actinopterygii
Order
Perciformes
Family
Serranidae

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Sea Bass Conservation Status

Sea Bass Locations

Sea Bass Locations

Sea Bass Facts

Name Of Young
fry
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
  • School
  • Largely solitary
  • Solitary/School
Fun Fact
Sea bass can grow up to 880 pounds in weight!
Other Name(s)
saltwater bass
Predators
summer flounder, monkfish, dogfish, bignose shark, alligator, otter, dusky shark
Diet
Carnivore
Favorite Food
fish, mollusks, and crustaceans, plankton
Common Name
sea bass
Origin
North America
Number Of Species
577
Migratory
1

Sea Bass Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Multi-colored
Skin Type
Scales
Venomous
No

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If you are an avid fish eater, then you might definitely have encountered a delicious plate of sea bass. However, there is a good chance that the fish you ate was not sea bass at all, but another type of fish. Sea bass is a common term used loosely to describe a diverse array of fish, but the real sea basses belong to a very large, specific family of ray-finned, marine fish.

3 Sea Bass Facts

  • Sea basses come in a vast range of sizes, from 1.5 inches in length to eight feet ten inches. They can also grow up to 880 pounds.
  • Sea basses are food fish and are described as having a delicious taste, firm yet tender texture, and flakes into tiny pieces when broken. It is predominantly eaten in Asian countries such as China. They are usually steamed, broiled, boiled, roasted, and fried.
  • A lot of sea bass species are known for their colorful scale patterns and their skin is ornamental even in food preparation.

Sea Bass Scientific Name

A widely used name for a variety of fishes, some sea bass species may not even be true sea basses. Sea basses belong to the family, Serranidae, which consists of sea basses and grouper fish as well. The name Serranidae is derived from the Latin word serranus which means “derived from saw” or “saw fish.”

The Serranidae family contains 70 genera and 577 species of fish. As there is a lot of debate about the sea bass family, some authorities put the number of species at around 450 and genera at 65. Taxonomists seek to split the Serranidae family into two suggested families named Epinephilidae and Anthiadidae, which are currently sea bass subfamilies.

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This family belongs to the order Perciformes, also called Acanthopteri, which consists of ray-finned fish and houses almost half of all bony fishes.

The sea bass is also called saltwater bass.

Sea Bass Appearance

fish
The name sea bass refers to a number of different species of fish. Most have a long dorsal fin and wide, large mouths, though.

©Spalnic/Shutterstock.com

Sea basses come in a broad range of looks with each species having its own unique characteristics. However, they still have some uniform characteristics. These saltwater fish are usually stout and full-bodied. They possess a long dorsal fin, a wide, large mouth, a protruding mandible or lower jaw, several rows of sharp teeth, and small scales. They also have a serrated preopercular margin.

When it comes to color, sea basses are some of the brightest around. They come in many brilliant patterns which serve as a form of camouflage for their prey as well as their predators. The deeper the fish lives, the more likely it is to be redder in color.

Sea bass species range in size. Some species are very tiny and measure only 1.5 inches in length while others like the giant grouper can grow almost nine feet in length and weigh 880 pounds!

Some other sea bass species include the black sea bass, pygmy sea bass, rock sea bass, painted comber, and yellow-tail bass.

Habitat and Population

Sea basses are saltwater fish and can be found around the world in tropical and temperate oceans and seas. Their locations include the Atlantic coast, the Pacific coast, the Mediterranean Sea, and even the Black Sea. Some sea basses have been known to enter freshwater at times.

A lot of the sea basses inhabit coral reefs, shelves, and rocky zones. They can be found living in depths from shallow to over 656 feet deep into the ocean.

Evolution and History

The earliest fossil records obtained for the Serranidae family date back 55.8 million to 33.9 million years ago to the Eocene Epoch.

The sea basses belong to the order Perciformes which made its appearance in history in the Late Cretaceous Epoch 100.5 to 66 million years ago.

Serranid fishes are hermaphroditic. Some of them tend to be monoecious while others start out female and change to male later on. The synchronous hermaphroditism was found to be an earlier diversification than the latter in the evolution of Serranidae.

Behavior

Because of the large size of the sea bass family, its species are very diverse, not just in size but also in behavior.

Sea basses have been described as having normal fish behavior. Being active swimmers, they are known to ambush their prey by surging at them with incredible speed. These fish also avoid predators using this same speeding method.

Although a large number of sea bass species live solitary lives and exhibit territorial behavior, some smaller species are not solitary and live in large schools. Sea basses like to hide in caves and reefs and can be found skulking around their environment. The sea basses in captivity have been observed playing with water bubbles and even yawning.

Diet

All serranid fishes are carnivorous. What sea basses eat depends on their species and size. Larger sea bass species feed on fish, mollusks, worms, and crustaceans while the smaller species feed mostly on plankton. These fish are largely opportunistic feeders. Some larger basses even eat smaller ones. All is fair in the game of survival.

Sea basses are known to skulk around their habitat and ambush their prey from places of hiding. Their radiant color patterns serve as disruptive camouflage and gives them an advantage over their prey.

The quality of their diet plays a huge role in the overall vibrancy of their color. The better their diet, the more brilliant their coloring would be. A sea bass with dull coloring might be indicative of a poor diet.

Some sea basses in captivity have been observed to go long stretches of time without feeding. These “fasting” days could last anywhere between a few days to a couple of weeks.

Predators and Threats

Sea basses are prey to even larger predatory fish. These predators include the summer flounder, monkfish, spiny dogfish, bignose sharks, alligators, otters, and dusky sharks. Some larger species of sea bass even prey on the smaller ones. Birds prey on juvenile sea bass.

Sea basses also face environmental and human threats such as climate change, invasive species, adverse weather conditions, pollution, and overfishing.

Reproduction and Lifespan

Sea basses are largely hermaphroditic fish. Some species are synchronous hermaphrodites which means that the organism has both male and female reproductive organs at the same time and can self-fertilize their eggs. Other species are protogynous hermaphrodites which means that they start out as females first and then later transition into being males.

The female sea basses produce enormous amounts of eggs and leave them to drift wherever the ocean takes them. The number of eggs laid depends on the species. Some species lay up to 300,000-500,000 eggs. When the eggs eventually hatch, the larvae are observed to be planktonic in nature.

The maturation age of sea basses depends on the species. Some species such as the European sea bass mature between two to three years for males and three to four years for the females.

The life expectancy for sea basses differ amongst species as well. The black sea bass has an average lifespan of 9 to 12 years while the painted comber can live up to 16 years old. Some sea bass can live up to 20 years of age.

Economic Importance of Sea Bass

Sea bass is used in commercial and recreational fishing. It is used in traditional cooking across the world. Black sea bass is used a lot in Asian cuisine such as Thai, Korean, Indian, and Chinese dishes, as well as Mediterranean, Turkish, Greek, Egyptian, and French dishes. Sea bass can also be broiled, fried, or baked.

Sea bass has a mild taste. its texture comes off as firm yet tender and flaky. If you like preparing dishes requiring fish whole, then the sea bass is ideal for you. it has a simple bone structure so you do not need to stress over stray bones.

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Hi! I am a writer, actor, and filmmaker. Reading is my favorite hobby. Watching old movies and taking short naps are a close second and third. I have been writing since childhood, with a vast collection of handwritten books sealed away in a duffel bag somewhere in my room. I love fiction, especially fantasy and adventure. I recently won the James Currey Prize 2022, so now, naturally, I feel like I own words. When I was 11, I wanted to be a marine biologist because I love animals, particularly dogs, cats, and owls. I also enjoy potatoes and chocolate in all their glorious forms.

Sea Bass FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How long do sea basses live for?

Sea basses have an average lifespan of 10 to 20 years.

 

 

What do sea bass eat?

Larger sea bass species feed on fish, mollusks, and crustaceans while the smaller species feed mostly on plankton. Some larger basses even eat smaller ones.

What eats sea basses?

Predators of the sea bass include the summer flounder, monkfish, dogfish, bignose sharks, alligators, otters, bluefish, other sea basses, birds, and dusky sharks.

How many species of sea basses are there?

There are 577 species of sea bass. Some authorities list this number lower.

How many genera of sea basses are there?

There are 70 genera in the sea bass family, Serranidae. Some authorities list this number lower.

What Kingdom do sea basses belong to?

Sea basses belong to the kingdom, Animalia.

What phylum do sea basses belong to?

Sea basses belong to the phylum, Chordata.

What class do sea basses belong to?

Sea basses belong to the class Actinopterygii.

What order do sea basses belong to?

Sea basses belong to the order, Perciformes.

What family do sea basses belong to?

Sea basses belong to the family, Serranidae.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Academia, Available here: https://www.academia.edu/10049536/Activity_habitat_use_feeding_behavior_and_diet_of_four_sympatric_species_of_Serranidae_Actinopterygii_Perciformes_in_southeastern_Brazil
  2. Britannica, Available here: https://www.britannica.com/animal/sea-bass
  3. FishBase, Available here: https://www.fishbase.se/summary/FamilySummary.php?ID=289

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