Boschung, Herbert T. Formerly, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
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A common name applying to a large group of fishes, mostly in the order Perciformes, generally having the following characteristics: body about 2.5–3 times longer than its depth; two dorsal fins, with the first composed of stiff spines; pectoral fins on the sides of the body just behind the head; pelvic fins that are thoracic in position, with one spine and five rays; ctenoid scales; a relatively large mouth; and a predatory lifestyle. However, because bass is not a taxonomic unit, the term cannot be precisely described or defined. In the western North Atlantic, eastern North Pacific, and freshwaters of Central and North America alone, the word bass appears in the vernacular of 53 species and six hybrids in 17 genera and six families. A generally accepted limited taxonomy of the basses is listed below. (The initial A indicates a North Atlantic range; P indicates a North Pacific range; and F indicates freshwaters of Central America and North America.) Fishes called basslets (primarily of the family Grammatidae) are not included. See also: Perciformes
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