Freshwater Fish Identification
Other names: Goggle-eye, rock bass, branch perch
The green sunfish, like warmouth, has a large mouth and a heavy, black bass
body shape. The body is dark green, almost blue, dorsally, fading to lighter
green on the sides, and yellow to white ventrally. Faint vertical bars are
apparent on the sides. Some scales have turquoise spots. Lepomis, the
generic name, is Greek and means "scaled gill cover." The species epithet
cyanellus is also Greek and means "blue."
Due to their propensity to overpopulate and so become stunted, green sunfish
rarely reach a desirable size for angling. The largest reported specimen in
Texas to date was 1.22 pounds.
The green sunfish is a very versatile species, able to tolerate a wide range
of environmental conditions, and tends to do very well when competition with
other sunfish is minimal. Its ability to tolerate environmental extremes makes
it ideal for survival in prairie streams where conditions are not stable, and it
is often the first sunfish species to repopulate depleted areas. Green sunfish
nest in shallow water colonies where nests are often closely packed. Gravel or
rocky bottom sites are usually preferred for nest building. Spawning occurs in
late spring, when water temperatures rise above 70°F, and may continue
throughout the summer. Hybridization with other sunfish species is very common.
Males aggressively defend their nests for 6-7 days after eggs are deposited, at
which time fry are usually free-swimming. Because of their enormous reproductive
potential, green sunfish often overpopulate small lakes and ponds. Adults feed
on insects and small fish.
Originally the distribution of green sunfish appears to have been limited to
the central plains west of the Appalachian Mountains and east of the Rocky
Mountains, including northeastern Mexico. However, due to introductions the
species has become nearly ubiquitous in the United States with the exception of
Florida and parts of the northwest. Green sunfish are found throughout Texas
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