Alternate Title

Food Habits of the Rock Sea Bass, Centropristis philadelphica, in the Western Gulf of Mexico


The rock sea bass, Centropristis philadelphica, is a euryphagic, benthic carnivore. Principal prey in decreasing order of importance are: natantian and reptantian decapods, mysids, fishes, stomatopods and polychaetes. As rock sea bass increase in size, crabs and fishes constitute a greater portion of their diet and mysids a smaller portion. Feeding activity is greater during daytime though diurnal dietary compositions are similar. Shrimps are the principal food in every season but are more notable during fall and winter than spring and summer; mysids and crabs are most important in spring, as are fishes in summer. Inshore (< 27 m deep) the primary foods are shrimps, mysids, larval fish and stomatopods; offshore, crabs and fishes dominate the diet. The euryphagic feeding of rock sea bass is similar to other small, co-occurring serranids, and morphologically they fit the description of a benthic forager in "convergence of body form." The ability of rock sea bass to utilize temporal-spatially abundant prey probably facilitates their broad bathymetric distribution (4-120 m) and relatively high abundance in the western Gulf of Mexico.