Green Sunfish

Common Name - Green Sunfish

Category - Fish

ScientificName -Lepomis cyanellus

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Osteichthyes

Order - Perciformes

Family - Centrarchidae

Genus - Lepomis

Species - cyanellus


Description - Body often thicker than other sunfish; mouth larger than other sunfish; upper jaw extends to beneath eye pupil; olive to blue-green back and side extending to light or yellow belly; irregular stripes of blue on head; black ear flap with white or yellow edge; may have dusky bars on side; large dark spot at rear base of dorsal and anal fins; rounded pectoral fin; complete lateral line; males with yellow-white band on outer margins of dorsal, tail and anal fins

Size - 5 - 6 in. (12.7 - 15.24 cm) long; seldom longer than 8 in. (20.32 cm)

Ecological Role - The green sunfish is a benthic organism, meaning that it lives and feeds near the bottom of the water. It is an opportunistic insectivore and piscivore in that it feeds on whatever insects and smaller fish are nearby. Its mouth size allows it to consume larger food items than other members of the sunfish group. Its ability to adapt to environmental extremes in temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and water flow allows it to be a pioneer species, or one of the first species to occupy a stream. When the water in a stream gets low, the green sunfish may be the only species surviving in a small isolated pool. It repopulates once the stream flows again.

Fun Facts - The green sunfish is a native species that is found in almost any aquatic habitat in Kentucky. It readily hybridizes (crossbreeds) with other sunfishes, especially bluegill and longear sunfish. Green sunfish-bluegill hybrids are commonly sold as "hybrid bluegill" The green sunfish is also called black perch, green perch, and pond perch.

Food - Adults: aquatic and terrestrial insects, crayfish, other fish; young: small crustaceans, aquatic insect larvae





Habitat - Sluggish rivers, creeks, pools, lake shores with vegetation; clear or turbid water; prefers small, slow streams, backwaters, and ponds with few other sunfish

Kentucky Distribution - Statewide

Life Cycle

Life Span

Life Stage


Seasonal Changes

Spawning - Spring and summer; eggs hatch in 2 days; nest made in shallow water by male and consists of many small depressions on fine gravel or sand near cover; guarded by male for 5 - 7 days, become reproductive in 3 years

Status - Common




What We Can Do


Diagnosis and Control

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