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Sunfish Species Identification

Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)

  • Appearance: Bluegills are recognizable by their deep, flattened bodies, bright blue and purple on the face and gill cover, with a dark olive band. They typically have a dark spot at the base of the dorsal fin and display vertical bars along their sides.

Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)

  • Appearance: Green sunfish feature a larger mouth than most sunfishes, with a body that's dark green in color. They have turquoise markings on the face and sides, and their fins often have a white or yellowish edge.

Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus)

  • Appearance: This species is noted for its long, narrow body and distinctive red or orange belly in breeding males. They have blue streaks on the face and a black opercular flap marked with a red edge.

Redear Sunfish (Lepomis microlophus)

  • Appearance: Redear sunfish, or "shellcrackers," are identified by their olive-green to brown body, highlighted with light emerald and yellow hues. They have a characteristic red or orange spot on the margin of the gill cover.

Warmouth (Lepomis gulosus)

  • Appearance: Warmouths have a robust body with a large mouth. Their body is dark brown, marked with dark spots forming irregular bars. They have red eyes and a mottled appearance overall.

Flier (Centrarchus macropterus)

  • Appearance: The flier is a lesser-known sunfish with a compressed body and a round profile. It's primarily olive-green with a silver belly and can be identified by the absence of a spot on the dorsal fin.

Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)

  • Appearance: Pumpkinseeds are vibrant sunfish with a mottled blue, orange, and green body. They have a distinctive red spot on the ear flap and blue stripes radiating from the mouth and eyes.

Spotted Sunfish (Lepomis punctatus)

  • Appearance: Spotted sunfish, or "stumpknockers," are small, with a body color ranging from dark green to brown, heavily speckled with black spots across their sides and fins, giving them their name.
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