Gray Fox – fetal position 2

Gray Fox | Urocyon cinereoargenteus




Longear Sunfish

Longear Sunfish Print

Longear Sunfish | Lepomis megalotis


 Longear Sunfish info via Wikipedia:

Longear sunfish
Lepomis megalotis2.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Centrarchidae
Genus: Lepomis
Species: L. megalotis
Binomial name
Lepomis megalotis
(Rafinesque, 1820)
Male longear sunfish

The longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis) is a freshwater fish in the sunfish family, Centrarchidae, of order Perciformes. It is native to the area of eastern North America stretching from the Great Lakes down to northeastern Mexico.[2] The longear sunfish reaches a maximum recorded length of about 24 cm (9.5 in), with a maximum recorded weight of 790g (1.7 lb).[3] Most do not live beyond six years.[3] The longear sunfish is quite colorful, with an olive to rusty-brown back, bright orange belly and blue-green bars on the sides of its head. A unique characteristic is their elongated opercular flap, giving an appearance of a "long ear".

The species prefers densely vegetated, shallow waters in lakes, ponds, and sluggish streams. Its diet can include insects, aquatic invertebrates, and small fish. Avoiding strong currents, longear sunfish are usually present in small to moderate flowing streams, rivers, and reservoirs.[4] The genus Lepomis has a well-characterized mating behavior where parental care is done by the male. He makes and defends the nest. Males fan the eggs to remove silt and other debris until the larvae hatch. Some longear females produce 4,000 eggs.[5] They spawn in groups but do not form large colonies.

Longear sunfish are better at getting food in moving waters than still waters. This may explain why they are more abundant in streams than lakes. For the most part, longear sunfish are active during the day and inactive at night.[5] There are very few conservation acts currently being performed in order to maintain the distribution and abundance of this species.[6]

Geographic distribution

Lepomis megalotis range map

Longear sunfish are found in North America, primarily in the Mississippi and Great Lakes regions.[7] Longear sunfish are mostly found in freshwater areas west of the Appalachian Mountains.[8] Some Lepomis populations are located as far north and west as southern Quebec and Minnesota. The species has also been spotted in places as far south and west as central Mexico and New Mexico. The native territory of the longear sunfish is exclusive to the North American Continent. It is found primarily in the Mississippi and Great Lakes watersheds.[3] The longear sunfish is restricted in range to certain large streams. This species can be located in the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and Mississippi River.[2] The species has been introduced to stream ecosystems along the eastern coast of the United States. The distribution of the longear sunfish throughout North America has not been affected since the species has been followed. This may be due to the species’ ability to travel throughout large bodies of water, thus avoiding dams and man-made interferences along smaller streams. They are also able to occupy different body of water types, thus making them more resilient to a decrease in their range distribution.


Longear sunfish from Lake Glendale, southern Illinois
Longear sunfish from the Coosa River, Alabama

Longear sunfish feed more extensively near the surface of the water than other sunfish species. Lepomis megalotis is mostly a carnivorous fish that eats aquatic insects, small crustaceans, fish eggs, young bass, and even young sunfish.[4] They have also been observed eating dragonflies and other insects which travel over the surface of the water. Other observed prey have been detritus, gnat larvae, snails, day flies and leeches.[4] The diets of adult longear (longer than 102 mm) are composed of terrestrial insects (37%), fish (31%), aquatic insects (21%), and fish eggs (7%).[3]Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and wading birds are all natural predators to the longear sunfish.[9] Smaller species of longear can be preyed on by larger sunfish populations. Sunfish are an important link in the food chain. They act as both predator and prey within their ecosystems. Other sunfish species and larger predatory fishes compete with the longear for food and resources.

Longear sunfish, like additional members of the family Centrarchidae, are freshwater fish. They prefer streams with a firm clay bottom or gravel with clear waters and they typically stay nearby aquatic vegetation.[4] Although more abundant near the sources of streams, sunfish can be found in water sources of all sizes and are also found in lakes. Longear sunfish usually reside in shallower, warmer headwaters of streams with a steady flow. They spend most of their time near aquatic vegetation, or other forms of cover such as roots, brush piles, and undercut banks. This allows for them to hide from potential predators. Sunfish species are especially intolerant to turbid waters.[9] Human-induced changes to stream ecosystems could potentially disrupt the sunfish distribution. Destruction of aquatic vegetation from human runoff could destroy aquatic plants that are essential for the protection and cover of this species against predators. Chemical runoff into large rivers could also disturb the pH of the longear’s natural ecosystem.

Life history

Longear sunfish tend to breed during the late spring and early summer (late May to late August).[9] During breeding seasons they are generally found in shallower, warmer waters near the sources of streams which have pools. Like most other members of Lepomis, longear sunfish are colonial nesters.[10] Male longear sunfish build the nests without assistance from the females. Preferred substrate for nesting is gravel, if available, but they will build in sand or hard mud if necessary. A male longear will guard the nest territory during all phases of reproduction. The clutch size can be anywhere from 140 to 2800 eggs per reproductive cycle.[11] After hatching, it only takes the longear sunfish 2–3 years to reach sexual maturity. The average life-span of the Lepomis megalotis in the wild is usually 4–6 years, but there have been cases where individuals have lived up to 9 years.[3] Longear sunfish cannot tolerate cloudy or mucky water. Throughout the 20th century their populations have been reduced in areas where their native streams have suffered increased cloudiness.[9] This cloudiness could potentially be a result of human induced erosion for agriculture or industry purposes. Increased human disturbance along streams and rivers could continue to increase the reduction of longear populations due to the murkiness of rivers and streams.

Current management

Longear sunfish are not currently endangered in any of their native habitats.[4] Longear sunfish are not listed federally or internationally as threatened or endangered, but efforts are still being conducted in order to protect the species.[6] Small conservation actions are taking place all over the US. Control of non-point source pollution from urbanization and agricultural practices is needed for this species, which is intolerant of turbidity. Habitat degradation and loss from shoreline and watershed agriculture threatens this species which prefers clear, shallow streams with aquatic vegetation.[4]Sedimentation and agricultural runoff also threatens this species which is believed to have been lost from many locations because of the effects of soil erosion. The longear sunfish is not in danger of overfishing, because it is not considered a sport fish, and because the sunfish is not especially good for eating. The longear sunfish is currently threatened in states such as Wisconsin and New York. Refuge areas in these two states are being created along lakes and streams in order to protect the few, disjunct locations where this species live.[6] Since this species has a fairly large distribution nationally and its abundance is still quite high, there are not many conservation groups taking serious action in preserving this species. The longear sunfish tends to do well in rivers and streams that do not undergo much disturbance. If man-made disturbances continue to disrupt shorelines then agencies may begin to see an increased reduction in the Lepomis megalotis abundance nationwide.


  1. ^ NatureServe (2015). "Lepomis megalotis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 4.1 (4.1). International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved February 25, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Berra, Tim and Gunning, Gerald (1972). "Seasonal movement and home range of the longear sunfish, lepomis megalotis (rafinesque) in Louisiana". American Midland Naturalist, 88 (2): 368–375.
  3. ^ a b c d e Bonner, T (2007) "Lepomis megalotis: Longear sunfish" Texas Freshwater Fishes, Texas State University.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Mullaney, M (2003) "Lepomis megalotis" Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan. Accessed 24 November 2013.
  5. ^ a b Witt, Arthur (1954) "Spawning and behavior of the longear sunfish, lepomis megalotis megalotis". Copeia, 3: 188–190.
  6. ^ a b c Lyons J (2013) "Longear sunfish (lepomis megalotis)" Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Updated 18 November 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  7. ^ Fuller, Pam and Matt Cannister (2012) Lepomis megalotis Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, United States Geological Survey. Updated 20 January 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  8. ^ Berra, Tim and Gunning, Gerald (1970). "Repopulation of experimentally decimated sections of streams by longear sunfish, lepomis megalotis (rafinesque)". Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 99 (4): 776–781.
  9. ^ a b c d Mullaney M, Poor A and Fink W. Longear sunfish Biokids, University of Michigan. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  10. ^ Keenleyside, Miles (1972) "Intraspecific intrusions into nests of spawning longear sunfish" Copeia, 2: 272–278.
  11. ^ Bietz, Brian (1981) "Habitat availability, social attraction and nest distribution patterns in longear sunfish (lepomis megalotis peltastes) Environmental Biology of Fishes, 6 (2): 193–200.

Further references



Orangespotted Sunfish

Orangespotted Sunfish | Lepomis humilis



Orangespotted Sunfish info via Wikipedia:

Orangespotted sunfish
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Centrarchidae
Genus: Lepomis
Species: L. humilis
Binomial name
Lepomis humilis
(Girard, 1858)

The orangespotted sunfish (Lepomis humilis) is a North American species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of order Perciformes.[2] These fish are widely distributed across the middle and eastern United States, from the Rocky Mountains to the east, from the Great Lakes south into the Gulf Coast.[2] The orangespotted sunfish is ecologically unique and thrives in turbid, shallow systems that have few predators and low oxygen contents.[3] The species prefers vegetated areas in sluggish backwaters or lakes, and can also be found in turbid rivers. The orangespotted sunfish can extend its range in lower-quality waters, which is not characteristic to other sunfish.[4] Orangespotted sunfish vary in total length and age for different river basin originations, but can be found to live four to seven years, and recorded lengths are up to 15 cm (5.9 in).[5]

Males make grunting noises to attract females to mate.[6] and are known to nest in ‘colonies’ or aggregations.[7] Spawning patterns are similar to those of other sunfish.[4] Due to the wide distribution of this fish, the species is not endangered and management plans are almost nonexistent presently. The orangespotted sunfish has been introduced to many habitats, such as rivers in Florida, Alabama, Texas, Colorado, Michigan, and Canada.

Geographic distribution

In North America, this species is common in many places; it ranges from the Great Lakes to Hudson Bay, from the Mississippi River down to the Gulf Coast and in the Colorado River from Alabama to Texas.[2][3][6] Some studies find that, in general, orangespotted sunfish tend to live in turbid, long, large lakes, which is evident by its geographic distribution.[3][8] The orangespotted sunfish is found in the Canard River near Ontario, Canada, though it is an introduced species.[9] In Texas, this species has been introduced in the past as far south as the Rio Grande basin.[10]


The orangespotted sunfish prefers to reside in shallow, silt-laden waters such as floodplain pools,[9][11] or waters with fine substrates such as sand.[7] As species of the fish age and develop, they explore new territories and expand their ecological limits through migration.[9] The dominant prey of orangespotted sunfish includes insects, such as corixids and chironomids, zooplankton, other small invertebrates that live in the water column, and fish.[3][8] Though orangespotted sunfish can be found in different parts of a lake, their prey items do not vary much throughout the lake compared to other sunfish species.[8] If reared in an environment with altered prey availability, the species has been found to show phenotypic plasticity or morphological differences in response to this changed environmental condition.[12] Certain prey types require different methods of prey capture, so as the orangespotted sunfish develop, their body can be more elongated with an angled snout, or more deep-bodied with a blunt snout, depending on the prey type.[12]

Life history

Orangespotted sunfish breed once or twice in June and July, like most other sunfish,[9] in colonies in shallow water near shore.[6] Floodplain and backwater areas are known to include important spawning and nursery sites for orangespotted sunfish.[11] Its reproductive classification is a lithopelagophil, which means the fish spawn on gravel and the embryos are pelagic.[9] Orangespotted sunfish nesting areas are often geographically close by other species’ areas and easily become crowded, which can increase the incidence of hybridization with other Lepomis.[6] Other fish species, such as Topeka shiners (Notropis topeka), are said to be ‘nest associates’ of orangespotted and other sunfishes, meaning they establish spawning territories on the periphery of sunfish nests.[7] This is because nesting sunfish have been known to expose suitable spawning sites for other species, like the Topeka shiner, by fanning the spot with their caudal fins to aerate the eggs.[7]

Some sunfish species make courtship sounds to attract females. For instance, when nesting orangespotted sunfish males see a female, they make grunting sounds while rushing back and forth between the female and the nest repeatedly to try to win her. The amplitude and frequency of the courtship sounds of orangespotted sunfish are distinct to the species and can be differentiated by female listeners from the sounds of other sunfish species if they do not occur simultaneously.[6] Orangespotted sunfish have a maximum age between four and seven years,[5] an average length of 3 cm (1.2 in),[9] and can reach a maximum recorded length of about 15 cm (5.9 in).

Current management

The floodplain environment is easily subject to change, by natural or human activities.[11] In many habitats that are natural homes to orangespotted sunfish, connectivity between rivers and lakes has been altered and flooding incidents have been reduced for agricultural gain.[3] The orangespotted sunfish is one of many species that are characteristic to floodplain lakes and has been affected by the degradation of this system.[3][8] The flat nature of floodplain lake areas makes agricultural runoff and runoff from manufacturers a distinct problem to water quality.[3] Inputs from runoff can increase sedimentation, which has many detrimental effects to habitats, such as reduced oxygen concentration and lake eutrophication, a nutrient enrichment of lake water from runoff.[3][8] Fortunately for orangespotted sunfish, a species that thrives in turbid, shallow systems with low oxygen content, increased sedimentation is not decreasing their habitat,[3] though the changes may be fragmenting the habitat.[11]

In Canada, according to the Fisheries Act, this and all fish species are required to be protected for spawning, nursery, and residence habitat through proper species management.[9] Currently, studies have used many methods to assess orangespotted sunfish population assemblages such as traps of plastic netting, pulsed DC electrofishing, tandem fyke and mini-fyke nets.[3][7][8][11]

Management recommendations

This species is not as vulnerable to human-induced change as most freshwater fish. The orangespotted sunfish lives in lakes largely surrounded by agricultural areas, so collaboration between managers, farmers and other watershed managing organizations in the region is necessary.[3] Watershed disorders, such as increased sedimentation and turbidity, must be addressed first by management planners when designing a plan for orangespotted sunfish.[3] Not much information has been collected on the changes of floodplain waters, and more is needed to fully understand the needs of the orangespotted sunfish before management can be implemented.[11] One solution to decrease lake sedimentation is through a process of ‘lake drawdowns,’ which are installed by managers to compact sediments and controlled by pumps.[8] The drawdowns mimic pre-dam conditions that would naturally harden and compact sediment. This process can be expensive, but it has already been implemented by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Swan Lake, Illinois through their habitat rehabilitation and enhancement project (HREP).[8] Seasonal drawdowns can increase river connectivity and has been seen to increase habitat for orangespotted sunfish populations.[8]

Water pollution by energy plants, such as the one monitored by TDEC, is a long-term problem that will have to be taken into account by managers for many years.[13] More studies should be done in all documented locations of orangespotted sunfish to assess the current population assemblages, and to track any future changes that occur. Monitoring can be done through the use of nets or electrofishing to measure population densities. At present, no lands need to be protected for this non-endangered fish, but careful consideration should be taken if new damns are created that fragment the orangespotted sunfish’s habitat.


  1. ^ NatureServe (2015). "Lepomis humilis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 4.1 (4.1). International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved February 25, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr, 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Miranda, L. E., Lucas, G. M., 2004. Determinism in Fish Assemblages of Floodplain Lakes of the Vastly Disturbed Mississippi Alluvial Valley, Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 133:2, 358-370.
  4. ^ a b MN DNR. "Orangespotted Sunfish (Lepomis Humilis) - FactSheet." Minnesota DNR. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2012. Web. 25 Sept. 2012.
  5. ^ a b Rasmus, R. A., Phelps, Q. E., Duehr, J. P., Berry, C. R. 2008. Population Characteristics of Lotic Orangespotted Sunfish, Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 23:3, 459-461.
  6. ^ a b c d e Gerald, J.W. 1971. Sound Production During Courtship in Six Species of Sunfish (Centrarchidae). Society for the study of Evolution, 25:1, 75-87.
  7. ^ a b c d e Witte C.C., Wildhaber M.L., Arab A., Noltie D.B. 2009. Substrate choice of territorial male Topeka shiners (Notropis topeka) in the absence of sunfish (Lepomis sp.). Ecology of Freshwater Fish 2009: 18: 350–359.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Timmermann, T.R., Dolan, C.R., Chick, J.H. 2011. Assessment of backwater lake management strategies based on the diets of five riverine fishes, Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 26:2, 203-216.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Leslie, J.K., Timmins, C.A. 2004. Environment and distribution of age 0 fishes in River Canard, a lowland Ontario river, The Canadian field-naturalist 119: 16-25.
  10. ^ Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards, and G.P. Garrett. 2008. An Annotated Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of Texas, with Keys to Identification of Species, 2nd Edition. Texas Academy of Science.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Kwak, T.J. 1988. Lateral movement and use of floodplain habitat by fishes of the Kankakee River, Illinois, Illinois Natural History Survey, Aquatic Biology Section
  12. ^ a b Hegrenes, S. 2001. Diet-induced phenotypic plasticity of feeding morphology in the orangespotted sunfish, Lepomis humilis, Ecology of Freshwater fish 2001: 10, 35-42.
  13. ^ Southworth, G.R., Peterson, M.J., Roy, W.K., Mathews, T.J. 2011. Monitoring fish contaminant responses to abatement actions: factors that affect recovery, Environmental Management, 47:1064-1076.



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