The Sparidae are a family of fish in the order Perciformes, commonly called sea breams and porgies. The sheepshead, scup, and red seabream are species in this family. Most sparids are deep-bodied compressed fish with a small mouth separated by a broad space from the eye, a single dorsal fin with strong spines and soft rays, a short anal fin, long pointed pectoral fins and rather large firmly attached scales.[1] They are found in shallow temperate and tropical waters and are bottom-dwelling carnivores.

Diplodus vulgaris
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Superfamily: Percoidea
Family: Sparidae
Rafinesque, 1810

There are hermaphrodites in the Sparidae. Protogyny and protandry appear sporadically through this lineage of fish.[2] Simultaneous hermaphrodites and bi-directional hermaphrodites do not appear as much since Sparidae are found in shallower waters.[2] Species of fish that express a hermaphroditic condition usually "lack a genetic hardwire", therefore ecological factors play a role in sex determination.[3]

Most species possess grinding, molar-like teeth.[4] Some of the species, such as Polysteganus undulosus, have been subject to overfishing, or exploitation beyond sustainable recovery.[5]


The family Sparidae contains about 155 species in 38 genera:

Timeline of genera


The most celebrated of the breams in cookery are the gilt-head bream and the common dentex.[7]

See also


  1. Bray, D.J. & Gomon, M.F. (2012): Breams , SPARIDAE, in Fishes of Australia
  2. de Mitcheson, Yvonne Sadovy; Liu, Min (Fall 2008). "Functional hermaphroditism in teleosts". Fish and Fisheries. 9: 1–43. doi:10.1111/j.1467-2979.2007.00266.x.
  3. Mank, Judith E.; Promislow, Daniel E. L.; Avise, John C. (Winter 2005). "Evolution of alternative sex-determining mechanisms in teleost fish". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 87: 83–93. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2006.00558.x.
  4. Johnson, G.D. & Gill, A.C. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 184. ISBN 0-12-547665-5. Eating the head is known to cause hallucinations, lasting many days.
  5. Hogan, C.M. (2010): Overfishing. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment.
  6. Tanaka, F.; Iwatsuki, Y. (2015). "Amamiichthys, a new genus for the sparid fish Cheimerius matsubarai Akazaki 1962, and redescription of the species, with designation of a neotype". Zootaxa. 4007 (2): 195–206. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4007.2.3.
  7. Davidson, A. Mediterranean Seafood, Penguin, 1972. ISBN 0-14-046174-4, pp. 86–108.
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