Redear sunfish

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Redear sunfish
Temporal range: Middle Miocene to Recent
Redearsunfishnctc.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Centrarchidae
Genus: Lepomis
Species: L. microlophus
Binomial name
Lepomis microlophus
(Günther, 1859)

The redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus), also known as the shellcracker, Georgia bream, cherry gill, chinquapin, improved bream, rouge ear sunfish and sun perch, is native to the southeastern United States, but since it is a popular sport fish it has been introduced to bodies of water all over North America. It generally resembles the bluegill except for coloration and somewhat larger size. It is dark-colored dorsally and yellow-green ventrally. The male has a cherry-red edge on its operculum; females have orange coloration in this area. The adult fish is between 20 and 24 centimetres (7.9 and 9.4 in) in length. Max length is 43.2 cm (17.0 in), compared to a maximum of about 40 cm (16 in) for the bluegill.

Large shellcracker being prepared for consumption
Illustration of the redear sunfish, Lepomis microlophus

The favorite food of this species is snails. These fish are bottomfeeders, meandering along lakebeds seeking and cracking open snails and other shelled creatures. The fish has thick pharyngeal teeth, hard, movable plates in its throat, which allow it to crunch exoskeletons. It is even capable of opening small clams. The specialization of this species for the deep-water, mollusk-feeding niche allows it to be introduced to lakes without the risk of competition with fish that prefer shallower water or surface-feeding.

In recent years, the stocking of redear has found new allies due to the fish's ability to eat quagga mussels, a prominent invasive species in many freshwater drainages.[1]

Male guarding eggs

During spawning, males congregate and create nests close together in colonies, and females visit to lay eggs. The redear sometimes hybridizes with other sunfish species. The redear sunfish is also located in many marsh wetlands of freshwater.

Fossil record[edit]

The redear sunfish is the first-known species of Centrarchidae based on fossil records, as old as 16.3 million years, dating back to the Middle Miocene[1].

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tavares, Stephanie (2009-11-09). "Popular sport fish could solve Lake Mead's clam infestation". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
  • Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2005). "Lepomis microlophus" in FishBase. November 2005 version.
  • Ellis, Jack (1993). The Sunfishes-A Fly Fishing Journey of Discovery. Bennington, VT: Abenaki Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-936644-17-6. 
  • Rice, F. Philip (1964). America's Favorite Fishing-A Complete Guide to Angling for Panfish. New York: Harper Row. 
  • Rice, F. Philip (1984). Panfishing. New York: Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-943822-25-4. 

External links[edit]