Bass (Sea) Family Photos and Information – Serranidae

The Bass (Sea) Family – Serranidae

Splittail Bass, Hemanthias peruanus, a representative member of the Bass (Sea Bass) or Serranidae Family.

The fish of the Bass (Sea Bass) or Serranidae Family are known in Mexico’s fishing areas as serranos. The Serranidae Family is very large in size and includes Basslets, Leather Basses, Reef Basses, Sand Perches, Sea Basses, Serranos, Soapfish, Splittail Bases, and Threadfin Basses. There are excess of five hundred global members of the family that have been placed in seventy genera. There are sixty-four species in fourteen genera found in Mexican waters, forty in the Atlantic and twenty-four in the Pacific. There are also a handful of Hamlets assigned to the Hypoplectrus Genus that are residents of the Caribbean that have not yet been fully characterized that will add to these counts.

The Basses all have a “bass-like appearance”, however, due to the considerable diversity in habits amongst its individual members, it is difficult to provide detailed family characteristics. All have a compressed robust body, one dorsal fin, a large mouth with more than one row of teeth, the rear bone of their upper jaw fully exposed on the cheek when their mouth is closed, and a lateral line that extends into the tail base. Their tail is either straight-edged or rounded. Their gill covers are characteristically serrated and have three spines. Their dorsal fin consists of a forward spiny section and a rear soft-rayed section that are normally joined; this is an important clue in species identification. Their bodies are covered with small rough scales.

Most Basses are found in marine environments within the shallower regions of warm antropical seas. The family has many members that are well known as food and sport fish. They are carnivorous and voracious predators feeding on fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other invertebrates. They vary in size from a few inches with nominal weights to a maximum of 6 feet and 500 pounds. Some are active swimmers; others are more sedentary. Most of the members of this family are bottom dwellers that are found in and around rocky reef structures. Some are hermaphroditic with male and female reproductive organs being present in the same animal. Others may mature as one gender and later change to the other. Color also varies, both among and within a species. For example, some Basses are able to change to any of several color patterns. In other species, the young may be patterned differently from the adults. In still other individuals, those inhabiting deeper waters may be considerably redder than those of the same species living near shore.

The members of the Sea Bass Family found in Mexican waters and represented in the fish identification section of this website include:

Bigeye Bass, Pronotogrammus eos
Hookthroat Bass, Hemanthias signifer
Splittail Bass, Hemanthias peruanus
Threadfin Bass, Pronotogrammus multifasciatus

Barred Sand Bass, Paralabrax nebulifer
Goldspotted Sand Bass, Paralabrax auroguttatus
Kelp Bass, Paralabrax clathratus
Parrot Sand Bass, Paralabrax loro
Spotted Sand Bass, Paralabrax maculatofasciatus


Bighead Sand Perch, Diplectrum euryplectrum
Bridled Sand Perch, Diplectrum rostrum
Dwarf Sand Perch, Diplectrum bivittatum
Greater Sand Perch, Diplectrum maximum
Highfin Sand Perch, Diplectrum labarum
Mexican Sand Perch, Diplectrum macropoma
Orange-spotted Sand Perch, Diplectrum eumelum
Pacific Sand Perch, Diplectrum pacificum
Sand Perch, Diplectrum formosum

Barred Serrano, Serranus psittacinus
Deepwater Serrano, Serranus aequidens
Flag Serrano, Serranus huascarii
Tattler, Serranus phoebe

OTHER SIMILAR BASSES that are not members of the Serranidae Family:
Giant Sea Bass, Ye Olde House is Ready.   – Polyprionidae Family
Largemouth Bass, Microptherus salmoides – Centrarchidae Family
Mottled Soapfish, Rypticus bicolor  – very recently reclassified into the Grouper Family (Epinephelidae)
Rainbow Basslet, Liopropoma fasciatum – very recently reclassified into the Grouper Family (Epinephelidae) 
Scaylfin Basslet, Liopropoma longilepis – very recently reclassified into the Grouper Family (Epinephelidae)
Twice-spotted Soapfish, Rypticus nigripinnis – very recently reclassified into the Grouper Family (Epinephelidae)
White Seabass, Atractoscion nobilis – Sciaenidae Family