Aquaria Central ......................................Bluegill

Lepomis macrochirus
Other names:...........none
Origin:......................North America
Max size:..................10"
Temperature:...........39-72 F.
Min tank size:..........55 gallons foods, vegetable matter

The bluegill is possibly the most common and most widely introduced sunfish in the world. It originates from North America where it is popular as a gamefish.

The body is typical of all sunfish. Deep, robust, and cichlid-like. The mouth is small and the front of the dorsal fin is spiny as it is in all other sunfish. This is a very fish-like fish.

The coloring is a dusky olive-green with five to seven dark vertical bands which fade as they approach the middle of the fish. There is a black opercular spot just behind the top of the gill. Often there is another black opercular spot on the back of the dorsal fin. In many bluegills there is various moddling patterns of dark and light scales with an orange to red sheen. The belly is a creamy color. The pectoral and pelvic fins are often pigmented with white.

To catch bluegills, the best method is to dip-net young specimens which always hug the shore with dense vegetation and other hideouts. Of course they can always be caught with angling, though you should exercise caution when attempting this. It might be possible to trap bluegills too.

The bluegill is a hardy fish which adapts well to captivity as long as they have the oppurtunity to set up territory and space. They can be fairly aggressive (especially larger specimens) so it is best to keep a pair of adults by themselves or with other large centrachids. They look great with other sunfish particularly bass, but excersize caution for bass are specifically designed to eat bluegills and similar pan-fish. Other tankmates could include our native catfish, and just about any other hardy gamefish which is slightly the same size and can take care of itself. They aren't picky about water quality as long as it's well oxygenated, fresh, cool and clean. They accept any food as long as it's fairly meaty and nutritious. Worms and shrimp seem to be their favorite. Overall this fish presents little trouble in an aquarium and is a good starter fish for your native tank. Very adaptable and hardy.

Breeding can be accomplished as long as they are conditioned with nutritious live food and kept in a large tank by themselves with favorable conditions. They spawn in a typical sunfish method: dig a nest (substrate should be suited for this), deposit the eggs, which are guarded untill the offspring can fend for themselves - much like cichlids. Of course a pond works the best for this.

The bluegill is a wonderful native fish which is as intelligent and interesting as most cichlids. They make a wonderful forage fish and garden filler. Good for beginners.


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