Barred Sand Bass
Paralabrax nebulifer

Physical Description

  • Long body with a square tail
  • Grey-white coloration on back, with a white belly and dark vertical bars on the sides
  • Two short dorsal (back) spines and then a very long third dorsal spine
  • Narrow dark bar below eye
  • Can be up to 25.5 inches long and 14 pounds


  • From Santa Cruz, California to Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico


  • Most are in waters from 60-90 feet, can be in as deep as 600 feet 
  • Live in shallow sandy environments near reefs, rock outcroppings, and kelp beds
  • Often rest on the bottom propped up on their pectoral (side) fins


  • Barred sand bass spawn from May-October
  • Adult fish form large spawning colonies in specific spawning grounds in Southern California during the spawning season
  • Females can spawn multiple times during the season
  • They reproduce by broadcast spawning, where eggs and sperm are released into the water column


  • Crabs, octopus, squid, small fish, midshipmen


  • Sharks, marine mammals, osprey

Interesting Facts

  • They are sometimes called grumps or grumpy due to their mouths.

Sources: California Department of Fish and Wildlife;; Ben Frable, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Photo: David R Andrew

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