Giant Sea Bass (Juvenile)
Stereolepis gigas

Physical Description

  • Juvenile giant sea bass coloring is radically different than adults (#18)
  • Juveniles often mistaken for different fish, as they resemble perch
  • Bright red or orange body with white and dark patches on the sides
  • Black spots all over, with dark pectoral fins
  • Orange fades to a bronzy purple and spots fade as fish gets older


  • Humboldt Bay, California to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California
  • Throughout the Gulf of California
  • Rare, but occasionally, north of Point Conception, California


  • Juveniles live in sandy flat areas close to the heads of submarine canyons, then transition to rocky reefs, and eventually kelp forests as they mature


  • Males reach sexual maturity at 40 pounds, females at 50-60 pounds (age 11-13 for both genders)
  • Spawn from July-September, where one female may produce 60 million eggs!
  • Eggs are 1/24th inch in diameter and float to the surface
  • Larvae drift and feed on plankton for about a month before becoming juveniles


  • Mysid shrimp that live above sandy flats

Interesting Facts

  • Giant sea bass are the largest resident bony fishes in California.
  • They are long-lived, capable of living 72-75 years, and do not reproduce for the first time until 13-15 years of age.
  • They can temporarily flash (change) the brightness of the color of their skin or spots.
  • Juvenile giant sea bass have been documented displaying cryptic behavior where they float near sand ripples and pretend to be stray kelp.

Sources:; California Department of Fish and Wildlife; Kayla Blincow, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; National Park Service

Photo: Herb Gruenhagen

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