Black sea bass, a small, plump fish related to grouper, is one of the most important commercial bass species. These bass begin life as males and become females between the ages of 2 and 5. Attractive fish, they lend themselves to display in live tanks. Mature animals have an even pattern of white diamonds along their dark sides, which are generally smoky gray, dusky brown or bluish black. Black sea bass are found from Rhode Island to Florida and are caught by trawl nets, longlines, hand lines and fish traps. Hooked fish offers best quality, followed by trapped. Sea bass can grow to about 8 pounds, but most are harvested at 1 1/2 to 3 pounds and shipped live to ethnic markets in the United States and Canada. Some fish dealers report that black sea bass remain odor-free longer than other species. Many fish on the market have the word bass in their name. Black sea bass is often confused with striped bass or tautog, which is also called blackfish.