Bass, name applied to members of 4 fish families: temperate bass (Moronidae); sunfish (Centrarchidae); temperate ocean bass (Acropomatidae); and sea bass (Serranidae).

(artwork by Claire Tremblay)

Bass, name applied to members of 4 fish families: temperate bass (Moronidae) with 3 species in Canada (white perch, white and striped bass); sunfish (Centrarchidae) with 12 species in Canada (including largemouth, rock and smallmouth basses); temperate ocean bass (Acropomatidae) with 4 species in Canada (blackmouth widejaw, recto, spiny widejaw, wreckfish); and sea bass (Serranidae) with 4 species in Canada (yellowfin bass, black sea bass, red barbier and snowy grouper). It can be seen that some members of bass families are not called bass. Anglers also use the word for several unrelated species. Temperate basses are found in marine, brackish or fresh waters of Eastern Canada, with striped bass occurring along the BC coast as a result of introductions.

Temperate Bass

Like sunfish, temperate basses have teeth in the mouth and spiny fins. They are distinguished by a spine on the gill cover and 2 dorsal fins (the spiny dorsal fin is separate from the soft-rayed dorsal). Temperate basses are occasionally fished commercially and as sport fishes. The white perch has recently become established in Lk Ontario, invading northwards from the US. This species has a high fecundity and tends to become overabundant, with many stunted individuals.


Sunfish family members are freshwater fishes found in lakes, ponds and slow-moving, warm streams of southern Canada. They are native to eastern waters but have been introduced into Pacific drainages. They are characterized by having bands of teeth on the roof of the mouth and tongue, as well as on the jaws; by spines in the anal fin and in the continuous dorsal fin; and ctenoid (rough-bordered) scales. They feed on insects, crayfish and other fishes. The largemouth and smallmouth basses are important sport fishes.

Sea Bass and Temperate Ocean Bass

Sea bass and temperate ocean bass family members are found along the Atlantic coast, but little is known about them in these waters. The yellowfin bass has only recently been reported in Canada.

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