• Family: Centrachidae (Sunfishes)
• Other Names: Bream
• Ohio Status: Sport fish
• Adult Size: Typically 6-10 inches, but can reach 12 inches. Usually weighs less than one pound but can reach 2 pounds.
• Typical Foods: Zooplankton, insects, and other invertebrates.
A deep slab-sided fish with a small mouth and a long pointed pectoral fin. They have 5-9 dark bars on their side and an overall dark green body color. When caught in muddy water they can appear more silver in over all coloration. The ear flap (opercle) is always black with out a red tip like redear sunfish. Bluegill sunfish often have a black blotch near the back of the soft dorsal and anal fins. They have blue along the bottom edge of their jaw line and rear bottom edge of their gill covers. They do not have any wavy blue lines on the cheek like pumpkinseed, green, and longear sunfishes. Their belly is white in young, yellow in females, and orange to a rusty red in breeding males.
Habitat and Habits
Bluegill sunfish occur throughout the state in nearly every water body. They are most abundant in clear lakes and ponds that have some rooted aquatic vegetation. They are usually not the dominant sunfish species in most streams but do make up a portion of the over all sunfish population in nearly every stream. Both bluegill and green sunfish readily hybridize with other species of sunfish, most often each other. Hybrids between two other sunfish species are relatively rare.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Bluegill sunfish typically build nests in large groups, or colonies. They spawn multiple times between May and August. Peak spawning, in Ohio, usually occurs in June. Males select an area in one to four feet of water and sweep out a saucer shaped nest with their tails. The females then lay between 10,000 to 60,000 eggs in the nest which is guarded by the male. The eggs usually hatch in about five days. Young bluegills eat primarily zooplankton or microscopic animals.