Where did the redear sunfish come from?
Native to the southeast U.S. as far north as Illinois and Indiana, the redear sunfish has been spreading via intentional stocking and aquarium releases.
Why is it a problem?
Both the native pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) and the redear sunfish are highly molluscivorous (mollusk eating). The redear sunfish has greater crushing power and is able to eat more of the snails both species need for food, which causes large reductions in pumpkinseed populations--not to mention snail populations.
What does the redear sunfish look like?
- Adults are 8-9.5 inches long
- Back end of the gill flap is black with a white border and a red spot on the tip
- Flat body, like other sunfish
- Body is olive with darker spots and flecks of red; chest is yellowish to cream
- Small mouth
- Hybridizes with other Lepomis species (other sunfish)
What habitat does it prefer?
The redear sunfish thrives in ponds, marshes and lakes with muddy or sandy bottoms. It is found in areas with slow-moving water rich in vegetation.