G. Cuvier, 1829
The flier (Centrarchus macropterus) is a sunfish (family Centrarchidae) native to muddy-bottomed swamps, ponds, weedy lakes, and riverine backwaters across the American South, from southern Illinois east to the Potomac River basin and south to Texas.
C. macropterus is currently the only species of genus Centrarchus, but Lacépède had originally assigned it to Labrus (now confined to some marine wrasses). The generic name, Centrarchus, derives from the Greek κέντρον (center, in this sense "sting") and ἀρχός (ruler), in reference, presumably, to the sharp spines on the anal fin. Centrarchus being the type genus of family Centrarchidae, it gives its name to the whole sunfish family. The specific name, macropterus, derives from μακρόν πτερόν (long fin).
The flier, which can live up to five years, grows to a maximum recorded length of about 30 cm (1.0 ft). The maximum recorded weight of the species is just over one-half kilogram (about 19 oz). Fliers are occasionally kept in aquaria by North American native-fish fanciers.
A Gato-class submarine, USS Flier, built in 1943, was named for this species. In addition, the newsletter of the Native Fish Conservancy is entitled "Flier".
The Flier, Centrarchus macropterus, is a member of the family Centrarchidae. It is well known for having the sunfish-shaped body, with a teardrop below the eye. Across both sides of the body are horizontal lines of dark spots and the mouth is small. With their also small, relatively deep bodies, Fliers have large dorsal and anal fins that can sometimes be close in size. The dorsal side of this fish is olive green, flowing into a grayish, pale yellow on the ventral side. Young fish have a spot on the dorsal, however as adults they tend to lose this spot. Anglers mostly find them too small to keep, but as aquarium fish they are beautiful and extremely loved.
Fliers are carnivorous feeders. They will feed on aquatic insects, smaller fishes, worms, leeches, and sometimes small amounts of phytoplankton.
Swimming in muddy-bottomed coastal swamps, ponds, weedy lakes, and riverine backwaters, Fliers prefer heavily vegetated water, meaning they will frequently be hiding under plant matter or swimming around submerged tree roots or bridges. Like other sunfish, they prefer warmer waters, being between 70 and 85 degrees F.
Fliers are native across the American South, from southern Illinois east to the Potomac River basin and south to Texas.
Importance to Humans
If cooked properly, they can be quite delicious and sweet. The same method for cooking other sunfish applies to Fliers.
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"Flier (Centrarchus Macropterus)." RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. <http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/species/flier/>.
Page, L. M., H. Espinosa-Perez, L. T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, N. E. Mandrak, R. L. Mayden, and J. S. Nelson. 2013. Common and scientific names of the fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, 7th Edition. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 34, Bethesda Maryland.
"Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries." Flier (Centrarchus Macropterus). N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. <https://web.archive.org/web/20140501143348/http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/fish/details.asp?fish=010176>.