The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Enneacanthus gloriosus
Enneacanthus gloriosus
(Bluespotted Sunfish)
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Enneacanthus gloriosus (Holbrook, 1855)

Common name: Bluespotted Sunfish

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: The bluespotted sunfish has a single dorsal fin, spines present in the dorsal and anal fins, three anal spines, a rounded caudal fin, a dark, vertical bar below each eye, middle and rear dorsal spines of approximately equal length, 18 or less scale rows around caudal peduncle, light spots on sides (blue to white in life), and vertical bars that are generally lacking, but if present, indistinct and numbering five or less. For further identification details, see Smith (1985); Page and Burr (1991); Jenkins and Burkhead (1994); Mettee et al. (1996).

Size: 9.5 cm

Native Range: Atlantic and Gulf Slope drainages below Fall Line from southern New York to lower Tombigbee River, Alabama, south to southern Florida; above Fall Line in New York and Pennsylvania (Page and Burr 1991).

Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Enneacanthus gloriosus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
MS198719911Lower Big Black
NY191619862Lake Ontario; Oneida
PA197019942Lower Susquehanna-Swatara; Lower West Branch Susquehanna

Table last updated 8/1/2021

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: The preferred habitats for the bluespotted sunfish are oxbows and side ponds characterized by dense submerged aquatic vegetation (Peterson and Vanderkooy 1997). Enneacanthus gloriosus is an opportunistic forager in areas with submerged aquatic vegetation and exhibits no seasonal pattern of prey consumption (Snyder and Peterson 1980). Bluespotted sunfish is planktivorous, feeding primarily on cyclopoid copepods, cladocerans, chironomid larvae, and ostracods, or similar invertebrate assemblages throughout their range (Snyder and Peterson 1999). In New York and New Jersey, E. gloriosus had a protracted spawning season, extending from late spring through summer (Snyder 1999). In Mississippi, spawning occurred from mid-April thorugh September, and in Florida, spawning occurred between April and October. Snyder (1999) also found that bluespotted sunfish in Florida and Mississippi spawned during their first year of life at <30 mm TL, whereas specimens from New England were found to spawn in their second year between 40 and 50 mm. These fish have been found to adopt a crepuscular feeding pattern in both laboratory and field observations (Casterlin and Reynolds 1980).

Means of Introduction: The presence of this species in the Jamesville Reservoir is probably due to an aquarium release sometime between 1951 and 1966 (Werner 1972). However, it is theoretically possible that the species migrated up from the Hudson River, through the Erie or Barge Canal, to Oneida Lake, then up the Chittenango River and Butternut Creek into Jamesville Reservoir. Although Werner (1972) states that no specimens have ever been collected in the intervening area, there is a collection from Oneida Lake dating back to 1916; the only other collection in the Great Lakes basin (Smith 1985). These fish may either represent a relict population or an introduction earlier than what was calculated in Jamesville Reservoir (Smith 1985). One factor against the canal migration hypothesis is that there is a 2–3 m-high weir with which a fish moving upstream from Oneida Lake to Jamesville Reservoir would have to contend (Werner 1972). Jamesville Reservoir was created in 1874, the same year the Erie Canal opened (Werner 1972). The origin of the Pennsylvania fish is unknown. They may be either natural populations or accidental introductions. Because this species is sometime kept as an aquarium species, aquarium release is a possible means of introductions in Pennsylvania (Denoncourt et al. 1975). Unknown means of introduction for the Big Black River drainage, Mississippi.

Status: Established in Jamesville Reservoir, New York, and Big Black River drainage, Mississippi. Collected from Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania. Extirpated from Oneida Lake, New York.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

Remarks: Maximum body size in Missippi populations was at the extreme lower range of body size noted in all geographic locations where data on E. gloriosus was available: 85 mm TL in New England, 77 mm TL in Georgia and Florida, and 58.4mm in Mississippi (Snyder 1999). Voucher specimens: New York (College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University), Pennsylvania (CU 16429; PSU; University of Maryland, Appalachian Environmental Laboratory, LaVale).

References: (click for full references)

Boogaard, M.A., T.D. Bills, and D.A. Johnson. 2003. Acute toxicity of TFM and a TFM/niclosamide mixture to selected species of fish, including lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) and Mudpuppies (Necturus maculosus), in Laboratory and Field Exposures. Journal of Great Lakes Research 29(Supplement 1):529-541.

Casterlin, M.E., and Reynolds, W.W. 1980. Diel activity of the bluespotted sunfish, Enneacanthus gloriosus. Copeia, 1980(2):344-345.

Clearwater, S.J., C.W. Hickey, and M.L. Martin. 2008. Overview of potential piscicides and molluscicides for controlling aquatic pest species in New Zealand. Science & Technical Publishing, New Zealand Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand.

Cooper, E.L. 1983. Fishes of Pennsylvania and the Northeastern United States. Pennsylvania State University Press University Park, PA. 243 pp.

Denoncourt, R.F., C.H. Hocutt, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1975. Additions to the Pennsylvania ichthyofauna of the Susquehanna River drainage. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 127(9):67-69.

GLMRIS. 2012. Appendix C: Inventory of Available Controls for Aquatic Nuisance Species of Concern, Chicago Area Waterway System. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Gonzalez, R.J. and W.A. Dunson. 1989. Differences in low pH tolerance among closely related sunfish of the genus Enneacanthus. Environmental Biology of Fishes 26(4):303-310.

Jenkins, R.E., and N.M. Burkhead. 1994. Freshwater Fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD. 1079 pp.

Lee, D.S., C.R. Gilbert, C.H. Hocutt, R.E. Jenkins, D.E. McAllister, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980 et seq. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, NC.

Marking, L.L. and T.D. Bills. 1985. Effects of contaminants on toxicity of the lampricides TFM and Bayer 73 to three species of fish. Journal of Great Lakes Research 11(2):171-178.

Mettee, M.F., P.E. O'Neil, and J.M. Pierson. 1996. Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Oxmoor House, Inc, Birmingham, AL. 820 pp.

Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 1991. A Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico. The Peterson Field Guide Series, volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Peterson, M.S., and S.T. Ross. 1987. Morphometric and meristic characteristics of a peripheral population of Enneacanthus. Southeastern Fishes Council Proceedings 17:1-4.

Peterson, M. S., and Vanderkooy, S. J. 1997. Distribution, habitat characterization, and aspects of reproduction of a peripheral population of bluespotted sunfish Enneacanthus gloriosus (Holbrook). Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 12(1):151-161.

Ross, S.T., and W.M. Brenneman. 1991. Distribution of Freshwater Fishes in Mississippi. Manuscript. US Fish and Wildlife Service. 548 pp.

Smith, C.L. 1985. The Inland Fishes of New York State. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY. 522 pp.

Snyder, D.J. 1999. Foraging and prey selection by bluespotted sunfish Enneacanthus gloriosus (Holbrook) in backwater, vegetated ponds in coastal Mississippi. Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 14(2):187-196.

Snyder, D.J. and M.S. Peterson. 1999. Life history of a peripheral population of bluespotted sunfish Enneacanthus gloriosus (Holbrook), with comments on geographic variation. American Midland Naturalist, 141(2):345-357.

Werner, R.G. 1972. Bluespotted sunfish, Enneacanthus gloriosus, in the Lake Ontario drainage, New York. Copeia 1972(4):878-879.

FishBase Summary

Author: Fuller, P., G. Jacobs, J. Larson, T.H. Makled, and A. Fusaro

Revision Date: 1/8/2020

Peer Review Date: 8/2/2013

Citation Information:
Fuller, P., G. Jacobs, J. Larson, T.H. Makled, and A. Fusaro, 2021, Enneacanthus gloriosus (Holbrook, 1855): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=377, Revision Date: 1/8/2020, Peer Review Date: 8/2/2013, Access Date: 8/1/2021

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2021]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [8/1/2021].

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