Aquaculture Feed and Fertilizer Resources Information System

European seabass - Dicentrarchus labrax

(Linnaeus, 1758) [Moronidae]

FAO official common names: Fr - Bar européen; Es - Lubina

Taxonomic and biological features:

Distinguishing characters
European seabass has a rather elongate body with a terminal mouth that is moderately protractile. The colour is silvery grey to bluish on the back, silvery on the sides, belly sometimes tinged with yellow. Young specimens can have some dark spots on the upper part of body, but adults are not spotted. A diffuse spot can be seen on the edge of the opercle. They have two separate dorsal fins; the first with 8 to 10 spines, the second with 1 spine and 12 or 13 soft rays. The anal fin has 3 spines and 10 to 12 soft rays. The caudal fin is slightly forked. The opercles have 2 flat spines; preopercle with large, forward-directed spines on its lower margin. They have small scales; lateral line complete with 62 to 74 scales (mode 70), but not extending onto caudal fin.

In the wild, adult seabass inhabit coastal waters down to about 100 m depth but are more common in shallow waters. They are euryhaline and eurythermal and are found in the littoral zone on various kinds of bottoms in estuaries, lagoons and occasionally rivers. They enter coastal waters and river mouths in summer, but migrate offshore in colder weather and occur in deep water during winter in the northern range. Young fish form schools, but adults are less gregarious. They are known to attain more than 70 cm in length and a body weight of 6 kg (Figure 2). In the wild, sexual maturity of males is attained between 2 to 4 years in the Mediterranean and between 4 to 7 years in the Atlantic (30 to 40 cm length); females reach sexual maturity at between 5 and 8 years of age (36-46 cm length). Under farming conditions, maturity is reached at a much earlier age. Annual spawning occurs during winter or early spring.