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Bluespotted Sunfish

BLUESPOTTED SUNFISH
Copyrighted bluespotted sunfish picture from

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Enneacanthus gloriosus

CHARACTERISTICS: This small, dark sunfish is distinguished by nine or 10 dorsal spines and 10 to 13 rays. The anal fin has three spines and nine or 10 rays. Lateral line scales number from 30 to 32; 16 to 18 rows of scales surround the caudal peduncle. The maximum depth is equal to or less than half the total length. Males have rows of blue or silver spots along their dark sides; females have lighter sides with fewer spots. Small individuals have faint vertical bars that fade with age. Vertical fins exhibit scattered dark blue spots on a pale gray background. The black spot on the ear flap is about two-thirds to three-quarters the diameter of the eye. A dark bar extends downward from the eye. See Holbrook (1855a) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 2 to 3 in (50 to 75 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Bluespotted sunfish are not widely distributed in Alabama, but when found, they are usually abundant. Most records are from low-gradient tributaries to the Mobile Delta and Mobile Bay. The inland record for this species in Alabama is an overflow pool to the lower Tombigbee River in Washington County (Mettee et al., 1987). Bluespotted sunfish were not known from the Escatawpa River system (Beckham, 1973) until June 1991 when Larry Johnson of the Alabama Game and Fish Division collected six individuals from an oxbow lake in western Mobile County.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: These beautiful little fishes occur around vegetation and submerged branches and roots in swamps, oxbow lakes, and small, slow-moving, soft-bottomed streams. These habitats are difficult to sample and do not allow underwater observation, so the life history of this species in Alabama is unknown. Breder and Redmond (1929) report that small crustaceans, aquatic insects, and small mollusks are primary food items. Spawning occurs when water temperatures reach 73ºF (23ºC). Eggs hatch in approximately 60 hours.

REMARKS: Beautiful body color and small size make these little sunfish an excellent candidate for the aquarium. They are somewhat hostile, so they are best kept in a single-species tank. They adapt well to both aged water and to aged water containing Myriophyllum or other natural vegetation, and they can be trained to eat dried or frozen foods, invertebrates, and small fishes.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: The bluespotted sunfish was described by Holbrook in 1855.

ETYMOLOGY:
Enneacanthus means nine-spined.
Gloriosus means handsome.

This copyrighted information is from the Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.

ADDITIONAL COMMON NAMES: In the southeast, anglers also call bluespotted sunfish: speckled perch, according to Cloutman and Olmstead in Fisheries (Vol. 8, No. 2).

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.

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