About This Animal
SIZE: 3 inches
RANGE: Eastern United States from New York to Florida
HABITAT: Vegetated lakes, ponds, pools and backwaters of creeks and small rivers
DIET: Small insects and crustaceans
Bluespotted sunfish are in the family Centrachidae, which also includes many gamefish such as bass, bluegill and crappie. Bluespotted sunfish never attain the size of these much sought after fishes, but they do perform an important job of keeping mosquito and other insect populations in check by feeding voraciously on their larvae.
They prefer swampy habitats with slow-moving water and lots of decomposing vegetation to hide in. They build circular nests in the substrate and males guard the eggs. Parents will care for young sunfish until they are large enough to go out on their own.
Closely related to bluegill, banded sunfish are very colorful, especially when in breeding colors. Anglers often refer to them as speckled perch. These reclusive fish are often sought by aquarium hobbyists because they stay small and are relatively peaceful compared to their larger cousins, but because of the muddy swamp habitats they prefer they are often difficult to collect.
The Tennessee Aquarium has recently set up an area for breeding sunfish as well as other native southeastern fishes.