Lepomis megalotis
Longeared Sunfish

Longeared Sunfish

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



  • Lepomis, from the Greek, "scaled gill cover"
  • megalotis, from the Greek, "great ear"
  • Common name from the much elongated ear flap


  • 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 rare sunfish in the North Country, known only from Hustler Lake
  • Length
    • maximum about 8"
    • average 3"-4"
  • Weight
  • Coloration
    • back olive to rusty brown
    • sides lighter
    • breast and belly yellow to orange red
    • back and sides with specks of yellow, orange, emerald, and blue
    • breeding males iridescent green above and bright orange below
    • ventral fins rusty orange
    • pelvic fins blue black
  • Body
    • thin, deep-bodied
    • opercular "ear flap" flexible and much elongated in adults
  • Head


  • Clearly a sunfish from its shape and form
  • Distinguished from other North Country sunfish by its "long ear" and extremely limited range in our area.


  • Mexico north and east through mideastern US to Quebec.
  • Known from only two places in Minnesota
    • Little Rock Lake, Morrison County
    • Hustler Lake, St. Louis County, in the BWCAW


  • Prefers clear, shallow, moderately warm, still waters, of
  • weedy streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and bays
  • over rubble, gravel, and sand with moderate aquatic vegetation.


  • Mainly aquatic insects, as well as mites, microcrustaceans, fish eggs, molluscs, filamentous algae, and small fish.
  • Feeds more extensively at the surface of the water than some other sunfishes.




  • Spawns from June through early August in large colonies during peak water temperatures in the afternoon. Male builds nests in sand or hard mud and defends the surrounding territory. Eggs hatch in 3-5 days.
  • Become sexually mature in second or third summer.



Boreal border

Last updated on 17 October 1999