Rainbow Basslet

Rainbow Basslet, Liopropoma fasciatum

The Rainbow Basslet, Liopropoma fasiatum, whose common Spanish name is Cabrilla Arcoiris, is a member of the Sea Bass or Serranidae Family, known collectively as “serranos” in Mexico. They are a very colorful fish and one of the few bright oceanic fishes. The Basslets are very colorful fishes and sold extensively by the aquarium trade.

The Rainbow Basslet has an elongated body with a pointed head that has a near horizontal profile with large eyes and a slightly upturned very large mouth with a projecting lower jaw. The head and belly are red and there are four horizontal stripes on the sides: a wide dark brown mid-laterally stripe, a strong yellow stripe above, a faint yellow stripe below and a red-brown stripe just below the base of the dorsal fin (as pictured below). The dorsal fin has seven rays and a yellow stripe near the base. They have a very deep tail base that is greater than one half the depth of the body and the tail is concave. The bodies are covered with small rough scales.

The Rainbow Basslet is found in and around rocky and coral reefs at depths between 75 and 750 feet. They reach a maximum length of 33 cm (13.0 inches), and weigh less than one-half kg (1 pound). The Rainbow Basslet have a limited distribution in Mexican waters of the Pacific being found in the lower two-thirds of the Sea of Cortez and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala. They are a rare deep water species that lacks significant scientific behavioral information.

The Rainbow Basslet is a straightforward identification due to the unique coloration pattern. In body shape they are similar to the Scalyfin Basslet, Liopropoma longilepis (lacks the mid-body banding).

The Rainbow Basslet is a rare catch by hook and line and too small to be of interest to most.

Rainbow Basslet, Liopropoma fasciatum: Fish caught out of 200-foot water at Gordo I, Baja California Sur, February 2007, on cut squid utilizing a traditional bottom rig. Size: 18 cm (7.1 inches). Identification courtesy of Dr. Ross Robertson, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama.
Rainbow Basslet, Liopropoma fasciatum: Fish caught out of 200-foot water at Gordo I, Baja California Sur, February 2007, on cut squid utilizing a traditional bottom rig. Length: 18 cm (7.1 inches). Identification courtesy of Dr. Ross Robertson, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama.