Spotted Sand Bass, Paralabrax maculatofasciatus
The Spotted Sand Bass, Paralabrax maculatofasciatus, whose common Spanish name is Cabrilla de Roca and whose local name is Pinto and/or Cabrilla, is a member of the Sea Bass or Serranidae Family, known collectively as “serranos” in Mexico.
The Spotted Sand Bass has a moderately elongated body and is characterized by overall white appearance covered with numerous orange, black and brown spots that coalesce to form dark lines along the rear of the belly. They have a dark line that runs from the eye to the gill cover and six or seven faint dark lines on their sides. The anal, caudal and soft dorsal fins are densely spotted. A key to identification is that third dorsal spine is very elongated being three times longer than the second dorsal spine. They have pointed heads with large mouths. The anal, caudal and soft dorsal fins are densely spotted.
The Spotted Sand Bass are found in sand adjacent to rocky structures at depths up to 300 feet, the depth established by a fish that we have caught. They reach a maximum length of 46 cm (18 inches), and weigh up to 2.2 kg (5 pounds). The Spotted Sand Bass is an eurythermal species being able to tolerate water temperatures in excess of 90oF (32oC) and as low as 45oF (7.5oC). They feed on small fishes during the day time and are significant a predator of reef fishes.
The Spotted Sand Bass is similar to and can be confused with the Barred Sand Bass, Paralabrax nebulifer (upper two-thirds of body and tail base with dark blotches; third dorsal spine longest and two and a half times longer than second and less than twice as long as second); the Goldspotted Sand Bass, Paralabrax auroguttatus (head, body and fins covered with dense orange spots, third dorsal spine three times longer than second); the Kelp Bass, Paralabrax clathratus (forehead covered with yellow spots; third and fourth dorsal spines of equal length); and the Parrot Sand Bass, Paralabrax loro (head covered with orange spots and lines, seven dark bars on the sides; third dorsal spine three times longer than second). In Mexican waters the Spotted Sand Bass is found along the Pacific side of the Baja, throughout the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of mainland south to Guatemala.
The Spotted Sand Bass is an important component of the recreational catch in the northern portion of the Sea of Cortez and is considered to be an excellent food fish. They are exceeding rare in southern Baja.