The Green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) is a small freshwater sunfish, a type of bream, native to the central United States and found in waterways across Alabama.
The native range of the green sunfish extends from the Apalachicola watershed on the east to the Rio Grande in the west, and as far north as the Great Lakes. They are rapid colonizers of intermittent streams and have also been spread intentionally as well as accidentally along with larger sportfish. They are sometimes disliked by anglers because their aggressive behavior gives them a competitive edge over the larger, more popular bluegill and spotted redfish. Green sunfish have been established in Europe, Asia, South American and Africa as introduced exotics, and are considered an invasive species in the western U.S. and eastern Florida.
The green sunfish is generally blue green on its back and sides with metallic pale bluish streaks near its head and along the lateral line and dusky vertical bars which are most pronounced in females. The scales show varying amounts of yellow or yellow-orange on the ventral sides and the edges of its fins, especially during spawning season. The fish displays prominent dark spots near the bases of the dorsal fin, anal fins, and ear plates. It has a large mouth and short pectoral fins, and a compact homocercal tail.
Adult green sunfish reach an average length of 5 to 6 inches and rarely exceed 10-12 ounces. The Alabama record of 24 ounces was caught in a private pond in Walker County in 2005, just months after another specimen from the same pond broke a 20-year record at 20 ounces. That previous record-holder, caught in Bayview Lake in 1985, weighed in at 15 ounces. The world record green sunfish was 33.8 ounces.
Green sunfish thrive in sluggish waters, lakes and ponds with gravel, sand, or rock bottoms and abundant vegetation. They tolerate poor water conditions and feed mainly on insects, larvae, snails, crayfish and small fish and invertebrates.They are preyed on by largemout bass and various species of catfish.
Green sunfish spawn in summer, with males preparing and defending shallow nests on the bed and attracting females by grunting. After the female deposits eggs in the nest, the male continues to patrol until they fry swim off to feed. The process can be repeated every 8-10 days during a single season. Sunfish spawn in proximity to other species, sometimes creating hybrid offspring.
The species was first scientifically described in 1819 by Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz.
- "Green sunfish", Alabama Department of Conservation and Wildlife - accessed March 25, 2016