Dollar Sunfish

Dollar Sunfish Lepomis marginatus

Type of Animal:

Backwaters, swamps, small ponds, backwashes, brushy pools, small to medium lowland rivers, sluggish streams, silty sand/clay bottom floodplain pools w/ submerged aquatic vegetation/hydrophytes/overhanging vegetation along undercut banks, oxbows, silty sand/clay bottom ponds w/ submerged aquatic vegetation/hydrophytes/overhanging vegetation along undercut banks, reservoirs, lowland streams, tannin-stained waters, muddy waters, sluggish creeks, pH of 7-7.8 (neutral) & temps of 61-82 F


Somewhat round-shaped fish w/ small blue flecks/spots on light blue/green background, males (especially breeding males) more colorful than females, often having reddish-orangish color & greenish fins, Louisiana form brighter than Eastern/North Carolina form

Insect larvae, insects, crustaceans, detritus, filamentous algae, small fish, worms

Status in Wild:

Breeding in aquariums, zoos, & aquaculture. Areas throughout range set aside to protect them.

Found in schools of 6-50 fish w/ more females than males. Colonial nesters w/ each nest guarded by territorial male.

Additional Info:

Young: Fry/Fingerling
Group: School

5 days 

Life Span:
6 years

Body Length:
Male: 3.5-5 in
Female: 3-4 in

Main predators are larger fish, birds, alligators, turtles, snakes, & fish-eating mammals.
Often spawn at same sites year after year.
Many eggs at male’s nest sired by smaller less colorful satellite males (who often imitate females in behavior/color) & young sneaker males.
Spawn from April to October w/ peaks in earlier months of spawning season.
Females can produce anything from 322-9,206 eggs a season depending on body size. Nests often have egg clutches from multiple females & females spawn in multiple nests.
Fry stay w/ dad for 1st week of life.
Sexually mature at close to 2 years old.
Much more common in E part of range being rather rare in W part of range.
Sometimes kept in home aquariums.
Sometimes hybridize w/ closely related sunfish species.
They often need a cooling period before spawning.

Fun Fact(s):
Get name due to roundish body resembling silver dollar.
Males highly protective of eggs/newly hatched fry, even charging people who come too close.
Not highly sought after by anglers due to smaller size.

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