Lepomis gibbosus

Picture of a pumpkinseed sunfish

Image by Bernard DUPONT on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Physical: The pumpkinseed is a sunfish with an olive green back and yellow sides mottled with orange, red, and blue. Their bellies are yellow or bright orange. The gills are horizontally striped with a dark red spot on the corner. The dorsal fin has spines in the front and is soft in the back. Adults grow to an average size of 4-6 in (10.2-15.2 cm).

Habitat: Their native range spans parts of the Midwest into Canada and the Atlantic coast from Maine to South Carolina. This includes the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and upper Mississippi river watershed. They’ve been stocked as a sport fish in multiple other states. They prefer shallow freshwater environments with a lot of vegetation.

Feeding: Pumpkinseed eat insects, molluscs, crustaceans, and other fish eggs.

Breeding: The spawning season lasts from late spring to early summer. Males will create a nest near the shoreline, and the mating pair will release and fertilize eggs in several rounds. The males then guard the eggs while they incubate for 7 days, and then again for the juveniles until they mature in 11 days. They may spawn multiple times within a season, and can also breed with bluegills, though the hybrids are sterile.

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