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.

Lepomis humilis
Lepomis humilis
(Orangespotted Sunfish)
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Lepomis humilis (Girard, 1858)

Common name: Orangespotted Sunfish

Synonyms and Other Names: Redspotted sunfish, dwarf sunfish, pygmy 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: 3-15 cm at sexual maturity

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).

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 Lepomis humilis are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AL1940200918Cahaba; Locust; Lower Alabama; Lower Black Warrior; Lower Coosa; Lower Tallapoosa; Middle Alabama; Middle Chattahoochee-Lake Harding; Middle Coosa; Middle Tallapoosa; Middle Tombigbee-Chickasaw; Middle Tombigbee-Lubbub; Mulberry; Noxubee; Sipsey Fork; Sucarnoochee; Upper Alabama; Upper Black Warrior
CO200920091St. Vrain
FL195719993Apalachicola; Escambia; Lower Chattahoochee
GA196019926Apalachicola Basin; Lower Flint; Middle Chattahoochee-Lake Harding; Middle Chattahoochee-Walter F; Satilla; South Atlantic-Gulf Region
IN194119803St. Marys; Tippecanoe; Upper Maumee
MI197720074Dead-Kelsey; Huron; Lake Erie; Western Lake Erie
MN200120052Elm-Marsh; Upper Mississippi-Crow-Rum
MS194720107Luxapallila; Middle Tombigbee-Lubbub; Noxubee; Sucarnoochee; Tibbee; Town; Upper Tombigbee
MO199219921North Fork White
ND192919652James Headwaters; Middle Sheyenne
OH1929201916Ashtabula-Chagrin; Auglaize; Black-Rocky; Blanchard; Cedar-Portage; Huron-Vermilion; Lake Erie; Lower Great Miami, Indiana, Ohio; Lower Maumee; Mohican; Paint; Sandusky; St. Joseph; Upper Maumee; Upper Wabash; Wills
PA200820081Lake Erie
SD194919807Bad; Cheyenne; Grand; Lower Cheyenne; Middle Cheyenne-Elk; Middle Cheyenne-Spring; Upper Moreau
TX1953201512East Matagorda Bay; East San Antonio Bay; Landreth-Monument Draws; Lower Guadalupe; Middle Guadalupe; North Fork Double Mountain Fork Brazos; San Marcos; San Miguel; South Corpus Christi Bay; South Laguna Madre; South Wichita; Upper Guadalupe
WI200020001Lower Fox

Table last updated 6/15/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: L. humilis prefer slow moving or still water in creeks, small rivers, ponds, and lakes. They are morphologically similar to other members of the Lepomis genus, but significantly smaller. Like other centrarchids, L. humilis are generalist predators feeding on zooplankton, insect larvae, and smaller fish (Barney and Anson, 1923). Similar to Bluegill (L. macrochirus) L. humilis display morphological plasticity based on their diet; fish feeding on small planktonic prey develop a more elongate fusiform body shape while those feeding on larger prey form a taller body and blunt snout (Hegrenes, 2000). They have a higher tolerance to turbidity and pollution compared to other sunfishes (Hegrenes, 2000).

L. humilis breeding season is during the summer. L. humilis construct round nests in gravel to lay their eggs; males guard and fan eggs until fry emerge (Barney and Anson, 1923). Females may lay as many as 4,700 eggs (Barney and Anson, 1923).

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: Established where recorded.

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: 2/19/2021

Peer Review Date: 8/2/2013

Citation Information:
Fuller, P., G. Jacobs, M. Cannister, J. Larson, T.H. Makled, and A. Fusaro, 2024, 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: 2/19/2021, Peer Review Date: 8/2/2013, Access Date: 6/15/2024

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. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [6/15/2024].

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