The common dentex (Dentex dentex) is a sparid fish which is considered a suitable candidate for Mediterranean aquaculture. A seven-weeks feeding trial was conducted over the summer period with common dentex, sea bream (Sparus aurata) and sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax). All three species were fed to visual satiety with two practical diets with varying crude protein and crude fat levels (55 % protein, 9 % lipids; 46 % protein, 17 % lipids). The initial body weights were 8.2, 11.6 and 17.3 g for common dentex, sea bass and sea bream, respectively. In all cases, specific growth rates were not significantly affected by dietary treatment, but they varied among species (sea bass 1.7-1.8 %; sea bream 2.1-2.3 %; common dentex 3.1-3.2 %). When comparisons between fish species were made, we observed that the increase in growth rates was linked to a decrease of the whole body fat content, as a consequence of a greater utilisation of dietary lipids as energy substrates. Furthermore, in common dentex, the 17 % lipid diet was able to improve protein retention, but this diet effect was less significant in sea bream and sea bass. In contrast to sea bream, the 17 % lipid diet did not up-regulate plasma GH levels in common dentex, which provides additional evidence for a more efficient utilisation of dietary lipids.