Splittail Bass

Splittail Bass, Hemanthias peruanus

The Splittail Bass, Hemanthias peruanus, whose common Spanish name is cabrilla doblecola, and whose local name is antennae, is a species in the Sea Bass or Serranidae Family, known collectively as serranos in Mexico. Globally, there are only five species in the genus Hemanthias, tree of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific. The Splittail Bass is an Anthias, a subfamily of Serranidae, that makes up the majority of the pink, orange, red, and yellow reef fish seen swarming in most coral reef photography and film.

The Splittail Basses are one of the few bright red fish and are found only in very deep waters. They have a uniform red color and a faint yellow line under their eyes. Their caudal fin is deeply forked. Keys to identification include their caudal fin rays with their long mid-rays and their very elongated filamentous third dorsal fin spine, which gives rise to their common local name, Antennae. The sides of their body are pink with yellow blotches and spots. Their pelvic fins are long and extend past the origin of their anal fin. All their fins are pink to orange-red.

The Splittail Basses are found over sandy bottoms at depths between 50 and 400 feet. They reach a maximum of 46 cm (18 inches) in length and 1.4 kg (3 pounds) in weight.

In Mexican waters the Splittail bass are found in all waters of the Pacific.

The Splittail Bass is straightforward to identify although some might confuse it with the Hookthroat Bass, Hemanthias signifer (which lacks the yellow line under its eye, has elongated pelvic fins, and a caudal fin that is not as deeply forked and has longer external rays).

The Splittail Bass are sold in local fish markets and are considered by locals to be an excellent food fish, however, they are a rare catch by hook and line.

Splittail Bass, Hemanthias peruanus. Fish caught from coastal waters off  Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, October 2013. Length: 34 cm (13 inches).