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Kelp bass

Kelp bass

On Exhibit: Kelp Forest

Animal Facts

  • Scientific Name

    Paralabrax clathratus

  • Animal Type


  • Diet

    small fishes, squid, crustaceans

  • Size

    to 28.5 inches (72 cm)

  • Relatives

    sea bass, groupers; Family: Serranidae

  • Habitat

    Kelp Forest

  • Range

    Pacific coast, Oregon to Baja California

Natural History

Usually loners, kelp bass join together to prey on small schooling fishes. They attack the school from all angles and may leap out of the water in hot pursuit.

Even though they're called kelp bass, these fish don't require kelp. They'll congregate around any type of structure, like shipwrecks, rocks, pipes and pilings.


Kelp bass are a popular recreational fishery species in Southern California.

Cool Facts

Larval kelp bass drift along as plankton and settle on blades of giant kelp. The kelp acts as giant sieves, straining larvae out of the water. 

The ear bones (otoliths) of kelp bass are occasionally found in Indian middens (refuse piles).

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