Bailey et al., (1954) recognized two subspecies of spotted sunfishes (locally known as stumpknockers): an eastern form, Lepomis punctatus punctatus, with black spots along its sides; and a western form, L. p. miniatus, with orange spots. Intergrades between the two subspecies were noted to occur between the Perdido and Apalachicola systems and also in the upper Coosa River system in Georgia. As a result of his study on meristics, morphometrics, and distribution of the L. punctatus complex, Warren (1992) chose to elevate both subspecies to species. We accept his recommendation and include the following characteristics for the spotted sunfish. The body has 35 to 43 lateral line scales. The dorsal fin contains 10 or 11 spines and 10 to 12 rays. The anal fin has three spines and 10 or 11 rays. The short, rounded pectoral fin does not reach the nostril when bent forward along the head. The mouth is small, with the upper jaw not reaching the front of the eye. Palatine bones lack teeth. The back is olive to brown, the sides are pale olive with scattered bluish highlights, and the venter is light yellow. Breeding males develop beautiful orange spots along the sides and venter, and their vertical fins change from light gray to dark brown. Distal edges of the dorsal and anal fins become lemon yellow, and the caudal fin becomes a yellowish orange. See Jordan (1877b) for original description.
6 to 8 in (152 to 203 mm). No state angling record exists for this species.
Redspotted sunfish occur throughout the Tennessee River drainage in Alabama and in most of the Mobile basin. Intergrades of L. miniatus and L. punctatus inhabit the upper Coosa River drainage in Georgia and coastal drainages from the Perdido eastward.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY:
Redspotted sunfish live in rivers, reservoirs, lowland streams, swamps, and oxbow lakes, but they are most abundant in the Mobile Delta. Spawning occurs from May through July. Gerald (1971) notes that redspotted sunfish may hybridize with bluegills. (Childers, 1967). McLane (1950) reports that redspotted sunfish feed almost exclusively on aquatic insect larvae, primarily midges.
The redspotted sunfish was described by Jordan in 1877.
Lepomis means scaled operculum.
Miniatus means red.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.