- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Tomtate have a slim, silver-white body with gray to tan on the back, yellowish pelvic and anal fins, and a bright orange-red mouth lining. A yellow to brown stripe runs from the eye to the base of the tail. Juveniles have a second, somewhat narrower stripe above the lateral line, and young juveniles have additional, even thinner stripes. The smallest juveniles have vertical bars. At the base of the tail there is a dark blotch that fades away in larger specimens. This feature distinguishes the tomtate from other grunt species, which lack such a blotch. The first dorsal fin, which has 13 spines, is connected to the second dorsal fin, which has usually 15 rays. The anal fin has three spines and nine rays, and the pectoral fin has usually 17 rays.
As the most abundant species of grunt, which also has the widest range, tomtate occur in the western Atlantic from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, southward to Brazil, including Bermuda, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean islands.
Tomtate inhabit subtropical waters and are found in seagrass beds, sand flats, patch reefs and hard, rocky bottoms at depths up to about 100 feet. Farther north, they are found mostly offshore. Adults congregate in large schools around piers, docks and reefs during the day, while juveniles often gather in small groups near crevices. Tomtate are more tolerant of colder water than most other grunt species.
Spawning from May through June in the southeastern United States, the tomtates eggs are deposited and fertilized in the open water and are not guarded.
Tomtate are omnivorous bottom feeders that forage for small crustaceans, mollusks, worms and other bottom-dwelling invertebrates, as well as plankton and algae.
Because of their small size, tomtates aren't usually sought after, and are more often caught while pursuing larger fish. In fact, the main sporting quality of the tomtate is to use as bait for larger fish. It may be used cut or live for fish like grouper, amberjack and barracuda.
Despite their size, which makes cleaning difficult, tomtate make a good panfish. They can be easily caught by stillfishing the bottom using the lightest spinning tackle and cut shrimp, fish or squid.
- Tomtates are commonly displayed in saltwater aquariums.
- There have been occasional reports of ciguatera poisoning in the Virgin Islands from eating tomtates. Ciguatera is a toxin that originates in certain reef algae and moves up the food chain, accumulating in high concentrations in the flesh of large reef-associated carnivores.