• Family: Centrachidae (Sunfishes)
• Other Names: Punkys, p-seed, sunfish
• Ohio Status: Sport fish
• Adult Size: Typically 5-8 inches, can reach 10 inches. Usually weigh less than half a pound, can reach 1 pound.
• Typical Foods: Larval insects, some adult insects, snails, and occasionally small fish.
Pumpkinseed sunfish are a very colorful, deep-bodied, slab-sided fish with a small mouth. They have a orange to yellow belly and many small brown to orange spots scattered over their sides. They also have many spots on their dorsal fin, and much like longear and green sunfish they have wavy blue lines on their cheek. The ear flap or opercle is black with a distinctive red-orange spot at the rear edge. The opercle flap is also very short compared to that of a longear sunfish.
Habitat and Habits
This species prefers clear, non-flowing water and substrates of organic debris and dense submerged aquatic vegetation. They are much more common in lakes and reservoirs of Northern Ohio than in Southern Ohio. They are also abundant in the bays and marshes of Lake Erie, often outnumbering bluegill sunfish. Pumpkinseed Sunfish are rarely found in fast flowing streams.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Pumpkinseed sunfish are nest spawners with the male digging the nest in water as shallow as 6 to 12 inches. Spawning occurs in May or June and the males guard the nest until the eggs hatch. The female will lay between 1,600 to 2,900 eggs. Several females may lay eggs in a single nest. Pumpkinseed sunfish are usually the first Lepomis sunfish species to spawn in the spring.