Barred Serrano

Barred Serrano, Serranus psittacinus

The Barred Serrano, Serranus psittacinus, whose common Spanish name is serrano guaseta, is a species in the Sea Bass or Serranidae Family, known collectively as serranos in Mexico. Globally, there are twenty seven species in the genus Serranus, thirteen of which are found in Mexican waters, ten in the Atlantic and three in the Pacific.

The Barred Serrano has an elongated moderately compressed body that is covered with large rough scales. They are highly colored being brown above and white below. They are characterized by a series of seven to nine broad vertically elongated dark bars on each side, about six to eight brown-orange blotches below the lateral mid-line, and a multitude of small orange spots on all of the fins. The dorsal fin is trimmed in orange transitioning to transparent in the rear. There is a prominent silver line that runs from under the eye to the pectoral fins in adults. Also, there are a series of small black spots on the body just above the pectoral fin insertion. They have a blunt straight edged caudal fin. The juveniles are more highly colored than the adults.

The Barred Serrano is found within small patch reefs or rocky outcrops in sand-rubble areas at depths up to 292 feet. This maximum depth was established by a fish I caught in July 2016. They reach a maximum length of 18 cm (7.1 inches) and are virtually weightless. They are a small, deep water species and not much is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Barred Serrano are found in all waters of the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from Guerrero Negro northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja.

The Barred Serrano is of similar size and shape as the Deepwater Serrano, Serranus aequidens, and the Flag Serrano, Serranus huascarii but due to its extensive markings is not easily confused with these species.

The Barred Serrano  is fairly common but too small to be of interest to most. When released, they will not return to the deep and are almost immediately consumed by the Magnificent Frigate Bird, Fregata manificus, who post consumption will always return to the ocean twice for drinks of water which provides splendid visual entertainment.

Barred Serrano, Serranus psittacinus, juvenile. Fish caught from coastal waters off Puerto Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, May 2003. Length: 9.0 cm (3.5 inches).

Barred Serrano, Serranus psittacinus. Fish caught from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, November 2013. Length: 18 cm (7.1 inches).