Colorful fish have the power to bring us joy. One such fish species is the longear sunfish that is known for its elongated ear flap present on the side of its head. Therefore, it has the scientific name of Lepomis megalotis, where Lepomis stands for scaled gill cover in Greek. On the other hand, megalotis means great ears. Hence, the name describes the long opercular flap present in this fish.
As a North American fish, it is mostly seen in the Mississippi and Great Lakes area of the United States. However, its range stretches to Mexico. The most attractive thing about this fish has to be its beautiful color. The olive or dark brown color is present on the back, while the front belly is orange with a yellow tinge. The head and mouth of this fish are covered in blue stripes, and the body has different colored specks. Male fish create the nest on their own by vigorously flapping their tail fins. The nest is shallow, and the males guide the females into its nest to begin spawning. An abundant amount of these fishes are present in their native place.
Non-game Fish, Fish Eggs, Aquatic Insects, Smallmouth Bass
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
140 to 2800 eggs
How much do they weigh?
up to 15.31 oz (434.5 g)
How long are they?
2.8-3.7 in (7.1-9.4 cm)
How tall are they?
What do they look like?
Olive, Dark Brown, Orange, Blue
What are their main threats?
Largemouth Bass, Wading Birds
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Shallow Lakes, Rivers, Streams
Longear Sunfish Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a longear sunfish?
The longear sunfish is a type of freshwater fish that is known for its colorful getup along with having a long opercular flap that looks like an ear.
What class of animal does a longear sunfish belong to?
The longear sunfish belongs to the class Actinopterygii and to the genus Lepomis. The name Lepomis stands for scaled gill cover in Greek.
How many longear sunfish are there in the world?
Though the exact population of this fish species is unknown, the International Union for Conservation of Nature states it to be Stable. This is due to the huge number of eggs laid by the longear sunfish females.
Where does a longear sunfish live?
The longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis) is extant to North America, and most of the fishes are found in the Mississippi and Great Lakes areas of the United States. Its range starts from Minnesota and stretches to the eastern side of the Apalachicola River. A considerable population of fish resides in the Gulf of Mexico.
What is a longear sunfish's habitat?
These are freshwater fishes that like to live in shallow waters, especially during the summer months. It can also be found in lakes, streams, and rivers with some amount of flow. The fishes like to reside near aquatic vegetation, and the waterbody's bottom needs to be made of gravel or clay. Even in the case of permanently moving streams, these fishes do not like to reside in turbid water.
Who do longear sunfishes live with?
Longear sunfishes tend to be social with other fishes. However, when two or more male fishes are kept together in a longear sunfish habitat, the more dominant fish may try to bully the subordinate fish. This is especially seen in the breeding male longear sunfish that tend to be territorial. However, it is notable that the longears do prefer to spawn in colonies.
How long does a longear sunfish live?
The average longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis) lifespan in the wild is around three to four years, but some fishes have managed to live for nine years. In captivity, the longear sunfish range of life can increase to 12 years.
How do they reproduce?
Reproduction is one of the most interesting characteristics of the longear sunfish. The males are ones that make elaborate nests, and the species is known for spawning in groups. A breeding female prefers males with a longer opercular flap. As the females enter a nesting colony, the males become a guide by opening up their fins to take the female towards the nest. After the mating ritual, both the longear males and the females release the gametes at the same time after shuddering. Females can lay up to 140-2800 or more eggs depending on the location. The spawning event of longears takes place in shallow streams and waterbodies.
Males end the hospitality for the females after the eggs have been laid in the nest. The father is keen on keeping his nest as safe as possible, and its first instinct is to fan the nest with the paired and caudal fins. It might help in better fertilization of eggs. Another interesting point is the construction of the nest, which is mainly done by the male fish when it flaps the tail fins vigorously to create a depression in the bottom substrate. Apart from the dominant males with large ears, the nesting colonies also contain the sneaker male and the satellite male. These sneaky fishes slyly get into the nests to release their sperms on top of the eggs. The eggs present in the nests only take two to seven days to hatch, giving rise to the small fry.
What is their conservation status?
According to the latest International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List evaluation, the status of the longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis) is of Least Concern.
Longear Sunfish Fun Facts
What do longear sunfish look like?
When it comes to the longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis), most people notice it because of the brilliant colors present on its body. The back of it is usually olive or dark brown, while the belly has a bright orange color. Its mouth and head have distinct blue bars, which gives a distinct look to this fish. The fish's body might also have specks of yellow, emerald, and orange splotches. All the colors together give a rainbow sheen to this fish. It has 34-38 ctenoid scales in the lateral line. The fins rise from this lateral line running on the length body.
The body of the longear sunfish is laterally compressed, which gives it a flattened look. Its interesting name comes from the long ear-like opercular flap present on the side of its head. This ear is longer in the males compared to the females, and the males also tend to have a brighter color. The longear sunfish also sports spines similar to that of the red-ear sunfish. There are up to ten spines in its dorsal fin. The anal fins have three spines, while the pelvic fins have a single spine. The upper jaw of this fish almost reaches the front of its eyes.
How cute are they?
The longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis) doesn't really have the cuteness that might be seen in other fishes. Hence, we leave it to you to decide the cuteness of this fish.
How do they communicate?
The longear sunfish is known for its various communication displays. Fins are used in various ways to communicate with other fishes. This fish also has an orange belly which is known by it during displays. The male longear sunfish is also known for its grunting sounds which it mainly uses during spawning events.
How big is a longear sunfish?
The average length of the longear sunfish is around 2.8-3.7 in (7.1-9.4 cm). Some have managed to find longears that measure up to 9.5 in (241 mm). When we compare the longear sunfish vs. pumpkinseed, the latter has a longer average body length of 4-11 in (10.6-28 cm).
How fast can a longear sunfish swim?
Not much is known about the swimming speed of the longear sunfish species.
How much does a longear sunfish weigh?
The average weight range of the longear sunfish species is up to 15.31 oz (434.5 g). However, heavier fishes have been caught by people. Other sunfish species are the red-breast sunfish and the green sunfish.
What are the male and female names of the species?
There are no distinct names for the male and female of this fish species.
What would you call a baby longear sunfish?
A baby juvenile longear sunfish is known as a fry.
What do they eat?
These are carnivorous fish, so it mainly depends on a diet where it feeds on other animals. It mainly hunts from small fishes like young smallmouth bass and other non-game fishes. Microcrustaceans and aquatic insects are also eaten. This fish is quite good at hunting, and it often feeds on insect larvae.
Are they rare?
No, the longear sunfish isn't a rare fish and it currently has the conservation status of being of Least Concern.
Would they make a good pet?
Yes, the longear sunfish can be made into a pet by keeping it in an aquarium, but it's hardly kept as one. Longear sunfish care can often become daunting because of the sheer amount of attention it requires. Make sure to follow proper longear sunfish aquarium needs if you have decided to keep it as a pet. We will also advise you to follow the local laws to check if it is legal to keep the fish.
Did you know...
It takes two to three years for the female and the male longear sunfish to become fully mature.
Catching a longear sunfish
Catching the fish becomes easier in summer seasons when it inhabits shallower water. You can catch the longear sunfish by visiting a place that has a known population of the species. Missouri is a popular place to catch fish.
How to tell a dollar sunfish from a longear sunfish?
One of the ways to differentiate between the dollar sunfish and the longear sunfish is through the rays present on the pectoral fin. The dollar sunfishes have 12 rays on their pectoral fin, while the longear sunfish has 13-14 rays.
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