The rock bass (Ambloplites rupestris, Ambloplites constellatus), also known as the rock perch, goggle-eye, red eye, is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of order Perciformes. They are similar in appearance to smallmouth bass, but are usually quite a bit smaller. The average rock bass is between 6 and 10 in, and they rarely weigh over a pound. Rock bass are native to the St Lawrence River and Great Lakes system, the upper and middle Mississippi River basin in North America from Québec to Saskatchewan in the north down to Missouri and Arkansas, and throughout the eastern U.S. from New York through Kentucky and Tennessee to the northern portions of Alabama and Georgia and Florida in the south. While fairly good eating cooked fresh, rock bass are generally not regarded by most anglers as a food fish of the quality of bluegill or perch. Fishing with live bait such as nightcrawlers is the most effective method to catch rock bass, although they are often caught with lures while fishing for bass. A. rupestris, the largest and most common of the Ambloplites species, has reached a maximum recorded length of 43 cm (17 in), and a maximum recorded weight of 1.4 kg (3.0 lb). It can live as long as 10 years. These fish have the ability to rapidly change their color to match their surroundings. This chameleon-like trait allows them to thrive throughout their wide range.
The rock bass prefers clear, rocky, and vegetated stream pools and lake margins. Rocky banks of northeastern lakes and reservoirs are a common habitat for rock bass. It is carnivorous, and its diet consists of smaller fish, insects, and crustaceans.
Rock bass can be surprisingly unflustered by the presence of human activity, living under lakeside docks and near swimming areas.
Ambloplites constellatus, a species of rock bass from the Ozark upland of Arkansas, and Ambloplites ariommus are true rock bass, but regarded as separate species.
A. rupestris is sometimes called the redeye or redeye bass in Canada, but this name refers more properly to Micropterus coosae, a distinct species of centrarchid native to parts of the American South. Rafinesque originally assigned the rock bass to Bodianus, a genus of marine wrasses (family Labridae).
In the aquarium
Rock bass can be kept in aquarium as small as 29 gallons for one however they prefer tanks closer to 55 gallon. Rock bass are similar in disposition to central American cichlids. They can be kept with yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed, green sunfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass not large enough to fit your rock bass in their mouth, convict cichlids, Jack Dempsey Cichlid, Green Terrors, and other fish similar to your rock bass in demeanor. Do not keep your rock bass with fish big enough to fit your fish in its mouth or small enough for your fish to swallow. Aquariums should be decorated with plenty of rockwork and several plants may be appreciated.
- IGFA World Record - All-Tackle Record - Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris)
- ITIS: Ambloplites rupestris
- Ellis, Jack (1993). The Sunfishes-A Fly Fishing Journey of Discovery. Bennington, VT: Abenaki Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-936644-17-6.
- Rice, F. Philip (1964). America's Favorite Fishing-A Complete Guide to Angling for Panfish. New York: Harper Row.