Lepomis cyanellus
Green Sunfish

Green Sunfish

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods



  • Lepomis, from the Greek, "scaled gill cover"
  • cyanellus, from the Greek, "blue"
  • Common Name from its bluish green color


  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Chordata, animals with a spinal chord
    • Subphylum Vertebrata, animals with a backbone
      • Superclass Osteichthyes, bony fishes
      • Class Actinopterygii, ray-finned and spiny rayed fishes
      • Subclass Neopterygii
      • Infraclass Teleostei
        • Superorder Acanthopterygii,
        • Order Perciformes, the perch-like fishes
        • Suborder Percoidei
          • Family Centrarchidae, the Sunfishes
            • Genus Lepomis, common and eared sunfishes


  • A sunfish
  • Length 8"-10"
  • Weight
  • Coloration
    • back brownish, olive to blue-green
    • sides are lighter and marked by vertical bars
    • yellow underside
    • face greenish with blue spots or lines
  • Body
    • thick bodied
    • spiny dorsal fin of 10-11 spines, widely connected to soft dorsal fin
    • opercular flap is usually short, hard, and inflexible
    • gill flap dark but rimmed with yellow or white
    • gill rakers long and slender
    • lateral line complete with about 41-52 scales
  • Head
    • uncharacteristically large mouth for a sunfish
    • jaw extends to midpoint of eye


  • Field Marks
    • short, wide head, deep body, and big mouth;
    • dark gill flap rimmed with yellow or white.
    • jaw extends to midpoint of eye.



  • Broad range of water types, but primarily a stream fish.
  • Highly tolerant of a variety of stresses, and able to utilize most habitat types
  • Tolerates a wide range of ecological conditions such as dissolved oxygen, turbidity, flow, and temperature. Can survive in areas which cannot be used by other species


  • Aquatic and terrestrial insects, crayfish, mollusks, and small fish.


  • Minnesota Record: 1 lb 3oz, from Scheuble Lake (Carver County).
  • U.S. Record, 2lb 2oz, from Stockton Lake, Missouri, 6/18/71, and Cherokee County pit, Kansas, 5/28/61



  • Males construct nests in shallow waters over variable substrates. Several females spawn in a community nest with one male. Eggs are depostied and attach to the substrate, where they are rigorously guarded by the male for about a week, when the fry become free swimming. The fry mature within two seasons.
  • Hybridizes readily with other members of the genus Lepomis
  • Opportunistic reproducer, usually among the first to repopulate intermittent streams.


  • Adults are territorial with a well defined home range


Boreal border

Last updated on 15 October 1999