Lepomis humilis
Lepomis humilis
(Orangespotted Sunfish)
Native Transplant
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Lepomis humilis (Girard, 1858)

Common name: Orangespotted Sunfish

Synonyms and Other Names: redspotted sunfish, dwarf sunfish, pigmy sunfish, sunperch

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Spawning males carry orange-red lines of the cheeks and gill covers. Their bellies and lower fins are reddish. Ear lobes are dark with a pale border. Large mouth that extends to front of eye when closed; spiny dorsal fin with 10 spines, directly connected to soft part of fin; long gill flap with vivid orange spots on the side; medium gill raker length; sides olive colored with fine golden or emerald dots. Becker (1983); Hubbs et al. (1991); Page and Burr (1991); Etnier and Starnes (1993).

Size: 15 cm

Native Range: Hudson Bay (Red River), and Mississippi River basin from Ohio to southern North Dakota, and south to Louisiana; Gulf Slope drainages from Mobile Bay, Alabama, to the Colorado River, Texas (Page and Burr 1991).

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Guam Saipan
Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: This fish has been introduced into Martin Reservoir, Tallapoosa drainage, Alabama (probably) (Boschung 1992); the Union Reservoir in Colorado (Colorado Division of Wildlife 2010); the Apalachicola River, Florida (Kilby et al. 1959; Yerger 1977; Swift et al. 1986); the Chattahoochee drainage, Georgia (Dahlberg and Scott 1971b; Yerger 1977; Swift et al. 1986); the Tippecanoe River in Indiana (Nelson and Gerking 1968); western Lake Erie systems in Michigan (Trautman 1981; Bailey and Smith 1992; Mandrak and Crossman 1992; Latta, personal communication); Lake Sakakawea, James and Sheyenne rivers in North Dakota (Owen et al. 1981) (based on native range depicted in Lee et al. et seq. 1980); systems of western Lake Erie, and the Scioto, Great Miami, Little Miami, Wabash drainages, other smaller tributaries of the Ohio River, and the river itself in Ohio (Trautman 1981; Emery 1985); the Big Creek of Essex County, Ontario (OFAH Databse 2009); the Bad (introduced/native?) and Cheyenne drainages in western South Dakota (Bailey and Allum 1962); and probably introduced in the Little Kanawha drainage in West Virginia (Hocutt et al. 1986).

Means of Introduction: Usually unintentional stocking as stock contaminant with other centrarchids. Probably competes with young bass Micropterus spp., bluegill L. macrochirus, and crappies Pomoxis spp. for food (Cross 1967). Orangespotted Sunfish expanded its range eastward across Ohio aided by introductions into farm ponds and reservoirs (Trautman 1981). It gained access to the Lake Erie drainage when it overcame a spillway (probably aided by humans) dividing the Wabash (Ohio basin) from the St. Marys system (Great Lakes basin). It then invaded the Maumee River and progressed downriver to Lake Erie (Trautman 1981).

Status: Presumably established in all locations.

Impact of Introduction: Orangespotted Sunfish probably competes for food with young bass, bluegill, and crappies (Cross 1967).

Remarks: Nelson and Gerking (1968) reported that the Orangespotted Sunfish was not collected in the Tippecanoe drainage, Indiana, prior to 1945, but do not directly state that it was introduced there. Stauffer et al. (1995) apparently had no definitive records for this species in the Little Kanawha drainage, West Virginia. However, they indicated that it probably occurred there. The lack of specimens may be the reason why Hocutt et al. (1986) reported this species as probably introduced there. Hegrenes (2001) found that orangespot sunfish exhibit diet induced phenotypic plasticity where fish that fed on small planktonic prey developed an elongate, fusiform shape with a sharply sngled snout. Those that fed on larger prey items developed a taller, deeper bodied shape and a blunt snout.

Possibly native to the Lower Great Lakes (particularly the southern ends Lake Michigan), but currently the confirmed native range is just outside the basin boundary.  

References: (click for full references)

Bailey, R.M., and M.O. Allum. 1962. Fishes of South Dakota. Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 119:1-131.

Bailey, R.M., and G.R. Smith. 1992. Names of Michigan Fishes. Michigan Department of Natural Resources 7 pp.

Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI. 1052 pp. Available: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/EcoNatRes.FishesWI

Boschung, H.T. 1992. Catalogue of freshwater and marine fishes of Alabama. Alabama Museum of Natural History Bulletin 14:1-266.

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.

Colorado Division of Wildlife. 2010. Fishery Survey Summaries - Union Reservoir http://wildlife.state.co.us/SiteCollectionDocuments/DOW/Fishing/FisheryWaterSummaries/Summaries/Northeast/1-14-11Union.pdf

Cross, F.B. 1967. Handbook of Fishes of Kansas. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publication No.45. University of Kansas, Topeka, KS. 357 pp.

Dahlberg, M.D., and D.C. Scott. 1971b. Introductions of freshwater fishes in Georgia. Bulletin of the Georgia Academy of Science 29:245-252

Emery, L. 1985. Review of fish introduced into the Great Lakes, 1819-1974. Great Lakes Fishery Commission Technical Report, volume 45. 31 pp.

Etnier, D.A., and W.C. Starnes. 1993. The Fishes of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN. 681 pp.

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

Hassan-Williams, C., and T.H. Bonner.  n.d. Lepomis humilis: orangespotted sunfish. Texas State University, San Marcos-Biology Department/Aquatic Station.

Hegrenes, S. 2001. Diet-induced phenotypic plasticity of feeding morphology in the orangespotted sunfish, Lepomis humilis. Ecology of Freshwater Fish, 10:35-42.

Hocutt, C. H., R. E. Jenkins, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1986. Zoogeography of the fishes of the central Appalachians and central Atlantic Coastal Plain. Pages 161-212 in C.H. Hocutt, and E.O. Wiley, editors. The Zoogeography of North American Freshwater Fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards, and G.P. Garrett. 1991. An annotated checklist of freshwater fishes of Texas, with key to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 43(4):1-56.

Kilby, J.D., E. Crittenden, and L.E. Williams. 1959. Several fishes new to Florida freshwaters. Copeia 1959(1):77-78.

Latta, W.C. – Michigan Department of Natural Resources (d. 2008)

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.

Mandrak, N.E, and E.J. Crossman. 1992. A checklist of Ontario freshwater fishes. Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

Nelson, J.S., and S.D. Gerking. 1968. Annotated key to the fishes of Indiana. Project 342-303-815. Department of Zoology, Indiana Aquatic Research Unit, Indiana State University, Bloomington, IN.

Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. 2009. OFAH Database - 2009 Download.

Owen, J.B., D.S. Elsen, and G.W. Russell. 1981. Distribution of Fishes in North and South Dakota Basins Affected by the Garrison Diversion Unit. Fisheries Research Unit, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND.

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.

Stauffer, J.R., Jr., J.M. Boltz, and L.R. White. 1995. The Fishes of West Virginia. West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA. 389 pp.

Swift, C.C., C.R. Gilbert, S.A. Bortone, G.H. Burgess, and R.W. Yerger. 1986. Zoogeography of the Fishes of the Southeastern United States: Savannah River to Lake Pontchartrain. In C.H. Hocutt and E.O. Wiley, eds. The Zoogeography of North American Freshwater Fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY. 213-266.

Trautman, M.B. 1981. The Fishes of Ohio. Ohio State University Press, Columbus, OH.

Yerger, R.W. 1977. Fishes of the Apalachicola River. Florida Marine Research Publications 26:22-33.

FishBase Summary

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

Revision Date: 8/2/2013

Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016

Citation Information:
Fuller, P., G. Jacobs, M. Cannister, J. Larson, T.H. Makled, and A. Fusaro, 2018, Lepomis humilis (Girard, 1858): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=383, Revision Date: 8/2/2013, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 2/25/2018

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.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [2/25/2018].

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