Green Sunfish

The Green Sunfish

Green SunfishGreen sunfish are a very common type of sunfish. Although not as bright as the others in the sunfish family; such as pumpkinseeds, they can still serve a great many purposes, both in the wild and in captivity. Green sunfish are very simple to identify, and may be crossed with other types of species to produce larger fish. Here, we will talk about identification, natural habitat, various uses humans have found for green sunfish, as well as hybridization with other species:

How to Identify The Green Sunfish

Close up picture of the face and eyes of a green sunfish

Note the brilliant blue colors on the head of this green sunfish

The green sunfish is very distinctive, even though they are not as bright as other sunfish. They are smaller than bluegill, and can be identified by their black ear lobe with a pale margin surrounding it. Their bodies are not quite as rounded as other bluegills, or other sunfish. They also have much larger mouths than most sunfish. Dark olive in color, these sunfish are also easily identifiable by the blue line on their cheeks. All of the fins are also outlined in either yellow, white, or orange. Whether in the wild or in an aquarium, green sunfish stand out.

Natural Habitat

In the wild, green sunfish are found in nearly every body of water. They can survive in very harsh conditions, including turbid water, and water without high oxygen content. Due to this, you can often find them in the wild where other sunfish are not living. Normally, they can be found in any size body of freshwater. Places where they can hide, such as around logs, brush, and rocks, are often preferred by this species. They often build nests very close to shore from mid-May to around August. Their natural diet consists of small aquatic insects, other smaller fish, and invertebrate.

Great Game Fish for Stock Ponds

Just like many other sunfish, green sunfish make a great game fish for stocking in ponds or lakes. They will eat fish food that can be purchased, and tend to live for a long period. However, they may need to be fed and live for a while before they are at all large enough to catch and keep. Normally, they are so small that most use them as forage fish for other fishes that eat them, such as largemouth bass, bullheads, and channel catfish. Some see larger green sunfish as competition for these species, even, because of the large mouth of the green sunfish. In some states, green sunfish are not allowed to be stocked in ponds. Ask your fishery for more information.

Uses in Aquariums

Some hobbyists may also keep one or two green sunfish in their aquariums at home. Because they can tolerate low oxygen content, these fish can live for years in captivity. They will easily accept dry food. Green sunfish can also be fun to keep in aquariums because they are particularly aggressive. With that being said, even though they are pretty, fairly easy to care for, and fun to watch, it may not be good to house more than one in a tank, or to even put them with other fish, as they could try to eat the other fish they are housed with.


Finally, we come to hybridization. In the wild, they will naturally hybridize with almost any other sunfish that is around. In the commercial world, the hybrid version of the bluegill, which is a cross between the normal bluegill and the green sunfish, is quite popular. These hybrids are available from many fisheries, and grow to a size larger than normal bluegill. Sometimes these are used as fish for stock ponds because of their large size and small mouths.

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