You are here


Lepomis macrochirus
(​Order: Perciformes, Family: Centrarchidae)

​Diagnosis​Bluegill are a species of freshwater sunfish. They are identified by the dark spot at the base of their dorsal fin, the small mouth, and reddish vertical bars when compared to other sunfish species. Bluegills have a spiny dorsal fin with an average of 10 spikes connected to the soft dorsal fin. They have long, pointed pectoral fins and their anal fin also has three spikes. They vary in coloration and usually range from bluish-lavender hues to olive-green and copper tones. These colors usually fade into orange hues on their sides. Bluegills typically weigh 1-3 pounds.

Life History:
 Bluegill males usually reach sexually sexual maturity at 2-3 years and females at 3-4 years. Spawning begins in May or June when temperatures reach the upper 60's (Farenheit). Males dig nests in gravel substrate in waters about 1 meter deep. Females typically lay 40,000 eggs at a time. Males guard the nest beds for about 2-6 days until the fry hatch from the eggs and disperse. 

Distribution: ​Bluegills are native to central and eastern United States. However, they have been purposefully and accidently introduced in just about every other state and are even considered an invasive species in many countries. 

Habitat: ​Bluegills are found in lakes, slow-moving rivers, ponds, and creek pools.

Young fry feed on algae and zooplankton. As they grow, they start feeding mainly on insects. They also eat other arthropods, fish eggs, and gastropods. 

​Conservation Status: ​Secure throughout its native habitat. Considered invasive in many other places.

Video: Monster Bluegill

Image Credits: 
Bluegill: Photo by James F. Parnell:
Bluegill Distribution Map: USGS:
YouTube: Monster Bluegill:

Pam Fuller and Matt Cannister. 2011.  Lepomis  macrochirus. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL. ( RevisionDate: 12/15/2010)

Keast, A., 1985. The piscivore feeding guild of fishes in small freshwater ecosystems. Environ. Biol. Fish. 12, 119–129.

Submitted by: Kevin W. Morton, July 2011

Wichita State University
Generated on 2011. This website is continuously updated.
Comments can be sent to Mary Liz Jameson.
Designed by Bioadventures.