Sea Basses

Sea Basses are a family of fish belonging to the Perciformes, mostly marine and with only a few freshwater species. They are mostly fish that live near the bottom of the sea (demersal) in tropical and subtropical waters. They can be found from shallow coastal waters to moderate depths, although most species occur in waters less than 200m deep.

The mouth of the Sea Basses is of a size between moderate and large, located in a terminal position and usually runs to approximately the height of the eye or slightly above it. Both jaws are equipped with small, thin, and conical teeth. They have an operculum, in the back of which there are 3 spines in most species. The upper or dorsal spine and the lower or ventral spine are sometimes very discreet. The central spine is the most developed and the longest. The lateral line of Sea Basses is complete and continuous, not exceeding the caudal fin. As for the sizes, there are species of small size, which do not exceed 3 cm as for example Plecranthias longimanus. The other extreme in terms of size is the 2.5 meters long and 400kg weight of Epinephelus itajara. The coloration of Sea Basses is variable, with patterns of dots, dark and light bands, vertical or oblique bars, ... Many species can change the body color suddenly. The patterns of coloration are useful to identify species, but always considering the possible variations within the same species.

The dorsal fin of Sea Basses is generally unique and continuous, having 2-11 spines and 10-27 soft radius. The anal fin has 3 spines and 6-17 soft spokes. Pelvic fins have 1 spine and 5 soft spokes. Pectoral fins are generally rounded and longer than pelvic fins. Finally, the caudal fin of Sea Basses has 13-16 branched spokes, and can adopt various shapes: generally rounded, although certain species can also be truncated, lunate, very rarely forked.

All Sea Basses are predators, feeding on invertebrates (mainly Crustaceans and Cephalopods) and fish. Certain species have specialized structures that allow them to feed on zooplankton.

The great majority of Sea Basses are hermaphrodites, there are species with sequential hermaphroditism (mainly subfamilies Anthiines and Epinephelinae) in which individuals are born as females, and after making a certain number of clutches, they change sex, becoming males. Other species (characteristic of the subfamily Serraninae) have synchronic hermaphroditism, in which the same individual has both sexes at the same time and in a functional way. In the latter type of hermaphroditism, although self-fertilization is possible, pairs of individuals are usually observed laying eggs, with the two individuals alternating in the release of eggs or sperm. Some Sea Basses form large groupings of individuals at spawning times, which occur in very specific locations.

There are a total of 538 species of Sea Basses described, all of which are grouped into 3 subfamilies and 75 genera.