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  Family Centrarchidae  

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 rupestris
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.


warmouth--Chaenobryttus gulosus


green sunfish -- Lepomis cyanellus
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.


pumpkinseed--Lepomis gibbosus


orangespotted sunfish -- 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 macrochirus
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.





longear sunfish -- 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 -- Lepomis microlophus
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 -- Micropterus punctulatus
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 -- Pomoxis annularis
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 -- Pomoxis nigromaculatus
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.

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