Physical Description

  • Long body with a square tail.
  • Gray-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.

Hear a Barred Sand Bass

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

Photo: David R Andrew