Family Centrarchidae--Sunfish Family
The members of this family occur naturally only in the fresh waters
of North America. They are laterally compressed, have two dorsal fins
that are broadly joined and appear as one fin, three to eight anal
spines, thoracic pelvic fins and ctenoid scales. Sunfishes build nests
and guard their young.
rock bass -- Ambloplites
This heavy-bodied sunfish has a large mouth, six anal fin spines and
12 dorsal fin spines. The rock bass is found in streams with permanent
flow, low turbidity, abundant cover and silt-free bottoms. It can
change color very quickly to match its surroundings. Feeding occurs
mainly at night with aquatic insects making up the bulk of the diet.
Spawning typically lasts about one month and is initiated by water
temperatures of 55-60 F. Eggs are released into a saucer-shaped nest.
The rock bass nests individually, and the male remains with the nest
until the fry have dispersed. The life span is about five to six years
during which it may attain a length of about one and one-half feet.
flier -- Centrarchus macropterus
The flier is a deep-bodied sunfish with an anal fin that is nearly
as long and large as its dorsal fin. It also has a large, teardrop-shaped,
black spot under each eye. The flier is found in clear, vegetated
waters which are lacking in current, like swamps and sloughs. The
flier's food sources generally include small crustaceans and small
fishes. Spawning occurs in April, with maturity reached at about one
year. The fish may reach about seven inches in length.
green sunfish --
The green sunfish (to one foot in length) is a heavy-bodied fish which
has a pectoral fin so short that it will not reach past the front
of the eye when it is bent forward toward the eye. It has yellow or
orange edges on the second dorsal, caudal and anal fins. This fish
lives in sluggish streams, lakes and ponds and is tolerant of a variety
of conditions including extremes of turbidity, dissolved oxygen, temperature
and flow. Food items include insects, fishes and crayfish. Spawning
continues from May through August. Nests are solitary unless nest
sites are at a premium, and several females may spawn in a single
nest. Males stay with the nest long enough for the fry to become free-swimming.
-- Lepomis humilis
The orangespotted sunfish is a moderately deep-bodied fish with a
very short pectoral fin that does not reach past the eye when pushed
forward toward the eye. The ear flap is very elongated in adults,
especially males. Bright orange or red-brown spots are present on
the silver-green side. This fish is tolerant of siltation, high turbidity
and streams with low or intermittent flow. Food consists of small
crustaceans, larval aquatic insects and an occasional small fish.
Spawning occurs from late May through August. The male stays with
the nest until the eggs hatch, about five days. Maturity is generally
reached in the third year. Adults may reach six inches in length.
bluegill -- Lepomis
The bluegill is a deep-sided sunfish with a small mouth. A black blotch
is often present near the base of the last part of the soft dorsal
fin. The ear flap is present but not greatly extended. Streams, lakes
and ponds are common homes for the bluegill, particularly where clear
water and aquatic plants are present. Feeding takes place in morning
and evening with insects making up the bulk of the diet. Spawning
starts in late May and may continue through August. Nests are usually
close together, and several females may spawn in the same nest. The
average life span is five to six years, and the fish may reach nine
inches in length.
-- Lepomis megalotis
The longear sunfish (to nine and one-half inches long) is a deep-sided
fish with a medium-sized mouth. The ear flap is considerably elongated
and usually bordered in blue. This fish is found in clear, permanent
streams with sand or rock bottoms and avoids strong currents. Insects
are the main component of the diet. The longear follows turtles and
suckers as they feed on the bottom, extracting the insect larvae and
crustaceans that are stirred up. It may also feed on the eggs and
fry of other (and its own) sunfish species. Spawning occurs from mid-May
through August, with the nests placed very close together. The male
stays with the nest and fry until they have dispersed.
redear sunfish --
The redear (to ten inches in length) is a deep-sided sunfish with
a small mouth. The pectoral fin is long and pointed and when bent
forward reaches well past the eye. The ear flap is small with a bright
red or orange spot and a light-colored border. This fish lives in
areas of warm, clear waters with little current and many aquatic plants.
The preferred food of the redear is snails. Spawning occurs in May
through June with the nests closely spaced. Maturity is reached in
the second year, and the redear rarely lives longer than six years.
redspotted sunfish--Lepomis miniatus [state threatened]
bantam sunfish--Lepomis symmetricus [state threatened]
smallmouth bass--Micropterus dolomieu
spotted bass --
The spotted bass is a slender, streamlined fish with a large mouth.
A broad stripe is present along the midside although it may be hard
to see in individuals from turbid water. The lower sides of the fish
have a series of dark spots arranged in rows. The habitat includes
the main channel of large rivers and depths in reservoirs. Adults
feed mainly on aquatic insect larvae. Spawning occurs from mid-April
through early June. Males stay at the nest until the eggs hatch, then
move away from the nest, staying in the area until the fry disperse.
Spotted bass generally do not live longer than six years during which
time they may reach two feet in length.
largemouth bass--Micropterus salmoides
white crappie --
The white crappie is a silvery, deep-sided sunfish with a large mouth.
The upper surface of the head and front section of the back are strongly
concave. It differs from the black crappie in having a dorsal fin
with 6 spines and a color pattern on the sides which is mainly made
of faint, vertical bars. The fish may be found in large rivers, lakes
and impoundments often at depths over 15 feet. Food items include
small fishes, aquatic insects and microcrustaceans. Spawning occurs
from mid-April through early June. Nests are generally close together
and may be at depths up to 20 feet. Fry leave the nest at night and
do not school. Maturity is reached during the second or third summer
of life with the average size of the fish about eight inches.
black crappie --
The black crappie is a silvery, deep-sided sunfish with black speckles
on its sides and a large mouth. It differs from the white crappie
in having seven or eight dorsal fin spines and a color pattern of
speckles and blotches instead of bars. The black crappie requires
clear water, little current and abundant cover such as submerged objects
or aquatic plants. Food items include small fishes, aquatic insects
and microcrustaceans. Spawning occurs from mid-April through early
June. Nests are generally close together and may be at depths up to
20 feet. Fry leave the nest at night and do not school. Maturity is
reached during the second or third summer of life.