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Morone chrysops

What do they look like?

Adult white bass can be as long as 46 cm (18 inches), and can weigh up to 3.2 kg (7 pounds). Females are often larger than males. White bass are silvery gray in color, and the belly is always lighter than the back. They have many narrow stripes on their sides.

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range mass
    3.2 (high) kg
    7.05 (high) lb
  • Range length
    460 (high) mm
    18.11 (high) in

Where do they live?

White bass are found in many parts of central North America. Originally they only existed in the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, but because of introductions they are now most common in the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio rivers.

What kind of habitat do they need?

White bass prefer to live in large bodies of water, such as deep lakes and large rivers, especially above dams. They do not like muddy water or areas with many plants.

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds
  • rivers and streams

How do they grow?

White bass eggs hatch take about two days to hatch. The young larvae quickly begin to form schools, just as adults do.

How do they reproduce?

White bass swim to shallow water to breed. They do not build nests or form mating pairs. As a female lays her eggs, a group of males follows her, each trying to fertilize as many eggs as he can. Once the eggs are fertilized, the adults swim back to deep water.

White bass breed when the water temperature reaches about 14 degrees celsius. This usually happens in February in the southern United States, and in May in the north. Each female lays around 500,000 eggs, which then sink and stick to the bottom. A group of males then fertilizes them. The eggs hatch about two days later. The young can grow to adulthood in as little as two years if they live in the south, but it can take much longer if they live in ther north.

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    White bass annually breed in the spring
  • Breeding season
    Spawning occurs from March through May
  • Range number of offspring
    Up to 100's of thousands (high)
  • Average time to hatching
    2 days
  • Average time to hatching
    2 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    1095 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    730 days

Once they migrate to spawning grounds and the eggs are laid and fertilized, the adults abandon the eggs and return to deeper water.

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female

How long do they live?

White bass grow quickly and have high death rates. Northern and southern populations have different average lifespans. Typically, southern white bass live about 4 years while northern white bass can live 8 years. Some white bass have reached 14 years of age.

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    15 (high) years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    4 (low) years
  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    9 (high) years

How do they behave?

White bass are social, they can be found traveling in large schools in areas of open water. Schools of white bass can be seen near the surface feeding during certain times of the day, while at other times schools are found in water as deep as 30 meters. Schools are made up of fish of about the same age, with larger schools containing more younger fish.

Home Range

No information on home range size was found but fish have been documented traveling large distances. A tagged fish was once recovered in Missouri that had traveled over 40 miles. White bass in Lake Erie have been documented traveling throughout the entire lake. (Walden, 1964)

How do they communicate with each other?

White bass use their lateral line systems to detect water movement and rely on vision and sensing chemical cues. Little is known about communication in this species.

What do they eat?

Larval white bass eat mostly zooplankton, especially Daphnia species. Juveniles eat mostly invertebrates, such as chironomid larvae, mayfly larvae, dragonfly larvae, damselfly larvae, bugs, amphipods, and crayfish. Adults over 350 mm in size start to eat mostly fish. Common prey includes, fathead minnows, johnny darters, gizzard shad, threadfin shad, young sunfish, yellow perch, saugers, freshwater drum, carp, bullhead species, and others. White bass have up to 4 peaks in daily feeding activity, but this can change throughout the year.

  • Animal Foods
  • fish
  • insects
  • aquatic crustaceans
  • zooplankton

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

White bass are easily preyed upon by many carnivorous fish species, including other white bass. (Schultz, 2004)

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

White bass are important as intermediate predators in the ecosystems in which they live, they are food for larger fish and other predators.

Do they cause problems?

There are no known adverse effects of Morone chrysops on humans.

How do they interact with us?

White bass are popular with anglers and are considered good to eat.

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • food

Are they endangered?

White bass are fairly common throughout their range, they are not listed on any conservation lists.


Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web, Mary Hejna (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Tyler Morgan (author), Eastern Kentucky University, Sherry Harrel (editor, instructor), Eastern Kentucky University.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


union of egg and spermatozoan


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


mainly lives in water that is not salty.


animals that have little or no ability to regulate their body temperature, body temperatures fluctuate with the temperature of their environment, often referred to as 'cold-blooded'.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


an animal that mainly eats fish


Referring to a mating system in which a female mates with several males during one breeding season (compare polygynous).

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


uses sight to communicate


small animals that float or drift in great numbers in fresh or salt water, especially at or near the surface. These serve as food for many larger organisms. (Compare to phytoplankton.)


2005. "Aquatic Habitat Assessment" (On-line). American Fisheries Society. Accessed October 16, 2005 at

Etnier, D., W. Starnes. 2001. The Fishes of Tennessee. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press.

Gilbert, C., J. Williams. 2002. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishesl. New York, United States: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc..

Guy, C., R. Schultz, M. Colvin. 2002. Ecology and Management of White Bass. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, Volume 22 Issue 2: 606-608.

Hartman, K. 1998. Diets of White Bass in the Ohio Waters of Lake Erie during June–October 1988. American Fisheries Society, Volume 127: 323-328. Accessed November 24, 2005 at

Quist, M., C. Guy, R. Bernot, J. Stephen. 2002. Ecology of larval White Bass in a large Kansas Reservoir. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, Volume 22 Issue 2: 637-642.

Schultz, K. 2004. Field Guide to Freshwater Fish. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

Walden, H. 1964. Familiar Freshwater Fishes of America. New York, NY: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc..

Willis, D., C. Paukert, B. Blackwell. 2002. Biology of White Bass in Eastern South Dakota Glacial Lakes. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, Volume 22 Issue 2: 627-636.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Morgan, T. 2006. "Morone chrysops" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 23, 2014 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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