Fish Identification: Sea Bass

Sea bass is part of the grouper family, which we've already covered. There are many types, including black sea bass, Asian seabass, European seabass, and the giant sea bass.

Physical description

Being from the same family, it is not surprising that sea bass share grouper's strong "fishy" appearance often associated with fish we eat.

The dorsal fins of the sea bass are one long continuous fin, rather than two separate sets of spines. The caudal and pectoral fins are rounded.

They have large, fleshy lips. It is also a tall fish, with a high back, moderately pointed snout, flat topped head, and eyes set high.

Color is inconsistent in this family, but generally lies in the dark range: browns, black, and dark blues.

Size can also vary widely based on specific species, with most in the 1-2 feet range. However, the giant sea bass has been reported to grow up to 2.5 m (8.2 feet) and weighing as much as 255 kg (562 lbs)! Quoting the wikipedia article, "Due its size and carnivorous nature, it can pose some threat to humans." Whoa!

Geography and habitat

Sea bass are found all over the world, in all waters. Most areas have a few species that are specific to those waters.

They like to hang around the sea floor, especially near rocks, man-made reefs, wrecks, and the like.


The Environmental Defense Fund lists the Chilean sea bass, a.k.a. toothfish, as an "eco-worst choice" seafood, and suggests avoiding. Basically everything that can be wrong is wrong: they are overfished, fished illegally, other animals are killed during fishing, and they have high levels of mercury. Best to avoid Chilean sea bass.

Efforts have been underway for a while to regrow the black sea bass populations, so they are listed as "Eco-OK" to eat.

Further reading

Britannica Online Encyclopedia

Photo by Mike Johnson

Photo by docbaty