EVERGLADES PYGMY SUNFISH
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Elassoma evergladei
CHARACTERISTICS: The Everglades pygmy sunfish is distinguished from the other Elassoma species in Alabama by the embedded scales on the top of its head. Other characteristics include dark lips, four dorsal spines, and 23 to 32 lateral scales (no lateral line). The shoulder region lacks the two or three dark spots found on banded pygmy sunfish. Breeding males have a charcoal body with six to eight thin, iridescent blue vertical bars. Females are generally brown on the back, mottled brown and white along the sides, and cream to white on the venter; their fins are mostly clear with small, scattered brown spots. The crescent-shaped area behind and beneath the eye varies from gold to iridescent blue, depending on light reflection and possibly the mood of the fish. See Jordan (1884a) for original description.
ADULT SIZE: 1 to 1.25 in (25 to 32 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: Elassoma evergladei reaches its western range limit in tributaries to Mobile Bay and the Perdido River system. Its singular occurrence in the Choctawhatchee River drainage and apparent absence in Alabama section of the Conecuh and Chattahoochee river drainages is probably due in part to inadequate sampling of its preferred habitats. The isolated record from Wallers Creek in Monroe County could be the result of a bait bucket introduction, but we doubt it. One or more Alabama-Conecuh interdrainage connections and faunal exchanges seem more plausible, given the fact that we have collected eight Mobile Basin species (five cyprinids, one sucker, and two darters) in several Conecuh River tributaries scattered across Escambia, Conecuh, and Butler counties.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Everglades pygmy sunfishes occur in aquatic vegetation along the margins of low-gradient streams, overflow pools, and swamps usually characterized by little or no current and soft silt and mud substrates. Spawning occurs in March and April. Pygmy sunfishes in Alabama usually deposit their eggs in aquatic vegetation, whereas centrarchids lay their eggs directly on the bottom of their habitat in cleared nests. Spawning behavior, embryology, and larval development in aquariums were described by Mettee (1974).
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Jordan described the Everglades pygmy sunfish in 1884.
Elassoma means small body.
Evergladei means of the Everglades, from which the type specimens were collected.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.