bass băs [key], common name applied to various fishes of Centrarchidae (black basses and sunfishes), Serranidae (sea basses and groupers), Moronidae (temperate basses), and other families. All basses are carnivorous and most are marine, although several species, such as the black basses (see sunfish), are found in freshwater. The sea basses are a large, diverse, and important family of perchlike fishes with oblong, rather compressed bodies. They inhabit mainly tropical and subtropical seas throughout the world and are highly valued as game and food fishes. Along the Atlantic coast as far north as Cape Cod is found the common, or black, sea bass, a sluggish bottom fish averaging 6 lb (2.7 kg) in weight and 18 in. (45 cm) in length. Other basses in this family include the 2-ft (60-cm) kelp and sand basses of the Pacific Ocean. The groupers are an important subfamily of large tropical sea basses. The temperate basses comprise the white basses, including the striped bass (or rockfish) and the white perch, both found in fresh and brackish waters from Florida to Canada; the white bass of the Mississippi valley and the Great Lakes; and the similar but smaller yellow bass, found in the same range; and the European sea bass, or branzino, and spotted sea bass of the E Atlantic Ocean. The European sea bass is farmed commercially in many Mediterranean nations. The white sea bass of the N Pacific is a member of the family Sciaenidae (see croaker), and the giant sea bass, or Pacific jewfish, a bulky Pacifc bottom fish that reaches a weight of 600 lb (270 kg) and a length of 7 ft (2.1 m) is a member of the family Polyprionidae. The so-called Chilean sea bass, or toothfish, of the deep, cold waters of the Southern Hemisphere, is a member of the Nototheniidae family. Basses are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Perciformes.
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