The sunfish family Centrarchidae includes sunfish, bass, and crappies. This family includes 32 species. The 17 species of the sunfish family which reside in our general area are largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, redbreast sunfish, green sunfish, pumpkinseed, bluegill, warmouth, longear sunfish, redear sunfish, black crappie, white crappie, mud sunfish, rock bass, and the smaller blackbanded, bluespotted, and banded sunfish. This family was native to North America east of the Rockies but many species have since been spread because of their value in fishing.


Pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus
Pumpkinseeds are very brightly colored with a darker back orangish belly and red and blue spots. Males make nests which can be in small groups. The males which defend the nest attempt to prevent other males from fertilizing the eggs. Females can lay 14,000 eggs which hatch after three days. Pumpkinseeds hybridize with bluegills and other sunfish.



Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus
Bluegills are large sunfish which have a bluish color on their gill cover. Their backs are olive and their gill flap is black without a red spot. A female may produce 38,000 eggs and a nest may produce 60,000 young. Bluegills average 9 inches but can grow up to a foot and weigh up to 2 pounds.


sunfish sunfish

Redbreast sunfish (Lepomis auritus) are found in southern and eastern Pa. They have an olive brown back with an orangish to reddish belly and a dark spot on the earflap. The tail is forked while that of most sunfish is round. This species can hybridize with bluegills and other sunfish. Males make a nest into which females can lay more than 3,000 eggs. They feed on insects, crayfish, and small fish.

Green sunfish hybridize with bluegills and pumpkinseeds.

Blue spotted sunfish can be found in Southeastern New York and the Delaware river basin.

Black and white crappies can reach 16 inches in length and weigh about a pound. Females can lay up to 50,000 eggs which hatch in 3 to 5 days. They feed on insects, crayfish, and fish. Black crappies move, feed, and mate in schools. Both species of crappie were introduced into our area from more western habitats.