Whitespotted soapfish

Rypticus maculatus

Family Serranidae - basses, sea

Distinguishing
Characteristics
Body elongate, compressed; head slightly concave in profile; color tan to brown, pale on head and belly; few scattered white spots on upper body; sometimes with dark bar from snout through eye to edge of opercle; pectoral fins with yellow edges, other fins with dark edges; mouth large, lips thick; upper edge of opercle not free, bound to body by membrane; base of dorsal and anal fins fleshy, no distinct break between body and fins; 2 dorsal spines, rarely 3; 3 spines on opercle flap, nearly or completely covered by skin; 2 spines on preopercle, usually covered by skin; 2 distinct pores on edge of lower jaw; 2 distinct pores on chin; slimy.
Similar Species
Differs from other sea bass by the fleshy dorsal and anal fins; the spotted soapfish R. subbifrenatus has dark spots. The greater soapfish, R. saponaceus, has 3 dorsal spines and mottled body coloring with no white spots.
Habitat
Gulf, rocky areas, coral reefs, shallow waters
Maximum Size
32 cm (12 1/2 in), common to 25 cm (10 in)
Fin Element Counts
D. I-III (usually II),24-26; A. 25-26 (explain)
Other Common Names
Previous Scientific Names
Comments
Release a toxic slime, called grammistin, when harassed to deter predators.
State size/bag limits