Barred sand bass, Paralabrax nebulifer

About this species

Barred sand bass (Photo © Jonathan Williams)

Once a barred sand bass has been caught, the dark bars on its sides begin to fade.

Serranidae, a large family of carnivorous fish

Central California (primarily south of Point Conception in Santa Barbara County) to Baja California, Mexico


Barred sand bass are a relatively common sea bass off the coast of California, and an important species in recreational fishing. They are gray to white in color with, as their name would suggest, dark vertical bars or blotches on their sides. They can grow up to 2 feet long, but tend to vary in size.

Habitat & Behavior

Adult barred sand bass can be found in kelp forests, rocky reefs (both natural and manmade), and the transitional area between reefs and sand. They are carnivorous and prey on anchovy, perch, octopus, crabs, and other fish and invertebrates.

About this map

The bright yellow areas in this map show reef habitat that is more suitable for barred sand bass, while dark blue areas are less suitable. Researchers modeled suitability across all currently known reefs in the Southern California Bight (the dashed gray line shows the extent of the modeled area). The model has a spatial resolution of 200 meters and includes areas shallower than or equal to 45 meters deep.

Data source: Species distribution model derived from Zellmer et al. 2019 in Frontiers in Marine Science, 6. [link]

Acknowledgements: We thank Amanda J. Zellmer for generously sharing this coastal marine biodiversity data.

References: California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2021. Barred Sand Bass, Paralabrax nebulifer, Enhanced Status Report. [link]