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.
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.
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.
White bass eggs hatch take about two days to hatch. The young larvae quickly begin to form schools, just as adults do.
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.
Once they migrate to spawning grounds and the eggs are laid and fertilized, the adults abandon the eggs and return to deeper water.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
White bass are easily preyed upon by many carnivorous fish species, including other white bass. (Schultz, 2004)
White bass are important as intermediate predators in the ecosystems in which they live, they are food for larger fish and other predators.
There are no known adverse effects of Morone chrysops on humans.
White bass are popular with anglers and are considered good to eat.
White bass are fairly common throughout their range, they are not listed on any conservation lists.
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