Redear Sunfish

Dark brown to green back with yellow to green sides. Belly is light yellow to nearly white. The mouth is small and the opercular lobe or ear flap has a dark blue-back spot with red to orange edge. Also known as a "shellcracker" for its propensity to feed on freshwater mollusks and snails.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Lepomis microlophus
CLASSIFICATION
Fish
LIFE SPAN
6-8 Years
SIZE
6-14 ” | 0.5-3 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • Unprotected
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Game
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

Redear Sunfish are native to the southeastern United States but have been introduced extensively throughout North America. In Nevada, it can be found in small ponds such as Floyd Lamb Park Pond in southern Nevada, and Dufurrena Ponds, and ponds in Mason Valley WMA in northern Nevada. It is also found in the Colorado River below Davis Dam. The species typically resides in warm, calm lakes and ponds.

Threats

  • Neoergasilus Japonicus
  • Non-native Parasitic Copepod

Natural History

Using lakebeds as the ideal feeding ground, the Redear Sunfish seek out hard shelled prey, with snails being their food of choice. More recently, the stocking of redear has found additional benefits with the fish’s ability to eat quagga mussels, a prominent invasive species in many freshwater drainages.