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 microlophus
Lepomis microlophus
(Redear Sunfish)
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Lepomis microlophus (Günther, 1859)

Common name: Redear Sunfish

Synonyms and Other Names: shellcracker, stumpknocker, cherry gill, sunny, sun perch

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Deep-bodied, olive colored, with darker spots and flecks of red, and occasionally vertical bars along the sides. The hind end of the gill flap is black with a white border and has a red spot on the tip (hence its name). The chest color is yellowish to cream colored.The mouth is small and when closed barely reaches only to the front margin of the eye. The pectoral fins are long and more pointed than those of other sunfish; the first dorsal fin contains 10 sharp spines, followed by 10 to 12 rays. Moyle (1976); Hubbs et al. (1991); Page and Burr (1991); Etnier and Starnes (1993). Lepomis microlophus is composed of two unnamed subspecies; one in Florida, Georgia, and southern Alabama, the other throughout the rest of its range. The two subspecies may no longer be distinguishable due to interbreeding caused by stocking programs (Page and Burr 1991).

Size: 25 cm

Native Range: The native range for this species is Atlantic coast of North America (USEPA 2008). Page and Burr (1991) report the range as Atlantic and Gulf Slope drainages from about the Savannah River, South Carolina, to the Nueces River, Texas; north in the Mississippi River basin to southern Indiana and Illinois. Rohde et al. (2009) also conclude that the native range includes the Savannah River in Georgia and extends south through Florida and west to the Rio Grande River, and north in the Mississippi River Valley to southern Illinois and Indiana.  Jenkins and Burkhead (1994) cite Bailey (1938) in reporting that the native range on the Atlantic slope may not be any farther north than Georgia.  

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 microlophus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AZ1945201513Agua Fria; Bill Williams; Bouse Wash; Brawley Wash; Havasu-Mohave Lakes; Imperial Reservoir; Lake Mead; Lower Colorado; Lower Colorado Region; Lower Gila; Lower Salt; Lower Santa Cruz; Upper Salt
AR198020194Illinois; Lower Little Arkansas, Oklahoma; Pecan-Waterhole; Poteau
CA1948202233California Region; Central Coastal; Fresno River; Honcut Headwaters-Lower Feather; Imperial Reservoir; Los Angeles; Lower American; Lower Colorado; Lower Sacramento; Middle San Joaquin-Lower Chowchilla; Mojave; Owens Lake; Pajaro; Salinas; San Diego; San Francisco Bay; San Joaquin; San Joaquin Delta; Santa Clara; Santa Margarita; Santa Maria; Santa Ynez; Suisun Bay; Tulare Lake Bed; Tulare-Buena Vista Lakes; Upper Amargosa; Upper Cache; Upper Klamath; Upper Pit; Upper Putah; Upper Sacramento; Upper Yuba; Ventura
CO195820095Cache La Poudre; North Fork Republican; Republican; South Platte; Upper Arkansas
DE198119943Broadkill-Smyrna; Delaware Bay; Upper Chesapeake
DC201320131Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan
IL1979202116Chicago; Des Plaines; Embarras; Kankakee; Lake Michigan; Little Wabash; Lower Illinois; Lower Illinois-Lake Chautauqua; Lower Sangamon; Middle Kaskaskia; Pecatonica; South Fork Sangamon; Spoon; Upper Illinois; Upper Kaskaskia; Upper Sangamon
IN1895200716Blue-Sinking; Driftwood; Eel; Eel; Highland-Pigeon; Iroquois; Lower Ohio-Little Pigeon; Lower Wabash; Lower White; Middle Wabash-Busseron; Ohio Region; St. Joseph; St. Joseph; Sugar; Tippecanoe; Upper White
IA1854200111Blackbird-Soldier; Flint-Henderson; Lake Red Rock; Lower Des Moines; Lower Iowa; Middle Des Moines; Middle Iowa; North Skunk; Skunk; Thompson; West Nodaway
KS1952201112Caney; Elk; Lower Kansas, Kansas; Lower Missouri-Crooked; Marmaton; Middle Kansas; Middle Neosho; Middle Verdigris; Neosho Headwaters; Spring; Upper South Fork Solomon; Upper Verdigris
KY1964201219Barren; Kentucky; Licking; Licking; Little Sandy; Little Scioto-Tygarts; Lower Kentucky; Lower Levisa; Middle Fork Kentucky; Ohio Brush-Whiteoak; Rockcastle; Rolling Fork; Salt; South Fork Licking; Upper Cumberland; Upper Cumberland-Lake Cumberland; Upper Green; Upper Kentucky; Upper Levisa
MD199520224Conococheague-Opequon; Lower Potomac; Middle Potomac-Catoctin; Patuxent
MI194019957Great Lakes Region; Huron; Kalamazoo; St. Clair-Detroit; St. Joseph; St. Joseph; Upper Grand
MO197520198Big; Elk; Lake of the Ozarks; Lower Gasconade; Lower Grand; Lower Missouri; Lower Missouri-Moreau; Meramec
NE197419955Lower Elkhorn; Middle Republican; Salt; Upper Elkhorn; Upper North Loup
NV196420013Havasu-Mohave Lakes; Muddy; Walker
NH200920091Headwaters Connecticut River
NY198619861Upper Susquehanna
NC1960202142Black; Cape Fear; Chowan; Coastal Carolina; Contentnea; Deep; Fishing; Haw; Little Pee Dee; Lower Cape Fear; Lower Catawba; Lower Dan; Lower Neuse; Lower Pee Dee; Lower Roanoke; Lower Tar; Lower Yadkin; Lumber; Lynches; Meherrin; Middle Neuse; Middle Roanoke; Neuse; New River; Northeast Cape Fear; Pamlico; Roanoke; Roanoke Rapids; Rocky; South Fork Catawba; South Yadkin; Upper Broad; Upper Cape Fear; Upper Catawba; Upper Dan; Upper Neuse; Upper Pee Dee; Upper Tar; Upper Tennessee; Upper Yadkin; Waccamaw; White Oak River
OH1931202323Cuyahoga; Hocking; Lake Erie; Licking; Little Miami; Little Muskingum-Middle Island; Little Scioto-Tygarts; Lower Great Miami, Indiana, Ohio; Lower Scioto; Mahoning; Mohican; Muskingum; Paint; Raccoon-Symmes; Sandusky; Tiffin; Tuscarawas; Upper Great Miami, Indiana, Ohio; Upper Ohio-Shade; Upper Scioto; Walhonding; Whitewater; Wills
OK1935202349Arkansas-White-Red Region; Bird; Black Bear-Red Rock; Blue; Bois D'arc-Island; Cache; Caney; Chikaskia; Clear Boggy; Deep Fork; Dirty-Greenleaf; Elk; Elm Fork Red; Farmers-Mud; Illinois; Kaw Lake; Kiamichi; Lake O' The Cherokees; Little; Lower Beaver; Lower Canadian; Lower Canadian-Walnut; Lower Cimarron; Lower Cimarron-Eagle Chief; Lower Cimarron-Skeleton; Lower Little Arkansas, Oklahoma; Lower Neosho; Lower North Canadian; Lower Salt Fork Arkansas; Lower Salt Fork Red; Lower Verdigris; Lower Washita; Medicine Lodge; Middle North Canadian; Middle North Fork Red; Middle Verdigris; Middle Washita; Mountain Fork; Muddy Boggy; Northern Beaver; Pecan-Waterhole; Polecat-Snake; Poteau; Robert S. Kerr Reservoir; Spring; Upper Little; Upper Salt Fork Arkansas; Upper Washita; West Cache
OR199220135Lower Crooked; Molalla-Pudding; Pacific Northwest; Pacific Northwest Region; Upper Willamette
PA1971198811Allegheny; Bald Eagle; Lower Monongahela; Lower Susquehanna-Penns; Middle Allegheny-Tionesta; Raystown; Susquehanna; Tioga; Upper Juniata; Upper Susquehanna-Lackawanna; Youghiogheny
PR194820215Cibuco-Guajataca; Culebrinas-Guanajibo; Eastern Puerto Rico; Puerto Rico; Southern Puerto Rico
RI197119711Pawcatuck River
SC1980202019Black; Calibogue Sound-Wright River; Congaree; Cooper; Edisto River; Enoree; Lake Marion; Lower Broad; Lower Catawba; Lower Pee Dee; North Fork Edisto; Salkehatchie; Saluda; Santee; South Carolina Coastal; South Fork Edisto; Upper Broad; Waccamaw; Wateree
TX1949202035Amistad Reservoir; Baffin Bay; Big Bend; Bois D'arc-Island; Concho; Denton; Double Mountain Fork Brazos; Dry Devils; East Galveston Bay; Elm-Sycamore; Hubbard; International Falcon Reservoir; Jim Ned; Lake Texoma; Lower Devils; Lower Pecos; Lower Rio Grande; Middle Canadian-Spring; Middle Concho; Middle North Fork Red; North Concho; North Fork Double Mountain Fork Brazos; Nueces Headwaters; Pecan Bayou; Pecan-Waterhole; Red-Washita; San Fernando; San Saba; South Concho; South Laguna Madre; Tule; Upper Devils; Upper Prairie Dog Town Fork Red; West Nueces; Wichita
UT195919591Lower Weber
VT199120023Ammonoosuc River-Connecticut River; Lake Champlain; Otter Creek
VI197719771St. Croix
VA1958202025Albemarle; Appomattox; Banister; Big Sandy; Chowan; Great Wicomico-Piankatank; Hampton Roads; James; Lower Chesapeake Bay; Lower Dan; Lower James; Lower Rappahannock; Mattaponi; Middle James-Willis; Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan; Middle Potomac-Catoctin; Nottoway; Pamunkey; Potomac; Rapidan-Upper Rappahannock; Roanoke; Roanoke Rapids; Upper Levisa; Upper Roanoke; York
WV198620235Big Sandy; Little Muskingum-Middle Island; Lower Kanawha; Potomac; Upper Ohio-Shade

Table last updated 4/13/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for states where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).

Ecology: The redear sunfish is a molluscivorous species of the Centrarchid family. It lives in vegetated littoral zones of small to large lakes, marshes, and reservoirs, and streams or rivers with sluggish to slow-moving flow (French and Morgan 1995). It prefers the deeper waters of warm ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and swamps, and favors clear water with abundant vegetation and other cover with a substrate of mud or sand (IUCN Redlist, 2013). This species often nests in colonies on the bottom of shallow areas (IUCN Redlist, 2013).

Means of Introduction: Intentional stocking for sportfishing. In Iowa, fish found in interior streams are believed to be escapes from stocked lakes (Harlan et al. 1987). The species' recent (1991) discovery in Vermont is somewhat of a mystery. It appears the most likely means of introduction there is stock contamination of privately stocked Micropterus (Whittier and Hartel 1997).

Status: Established in most locations, but extirpated in New Mexico (Sublette et al. 1990) and Utah (Sigler and Sigler 1996). The Delaware population at Wagamons Pond was discovered in October 1994 (Raasch, personal communication). Not established in Missouri (Pflieger 1997). Established in at least one of the two lakes in Vermont (Whittier and Hartel 1997). Results of a 1995 survey show that redear natural reproduction has been highly successful in Clear Lake in Jackson County, MI (Herman 1996).

Impact of Introduction: Redear is highly molluscivorous. Direct impacts on invertebrates and indirect impacts on vegetation are associated with L. microlophus in Tennessee (Ruiz et al. 1999). In inland lakes of southern Michigan, introduced redear is associated with ecological changes in populations of pumpkinseed L. gibbosus, a native molluscivore. Effects of introduced redear on pumpkinseed include reduced consumption of snails and reduced population densities (Huckins 1997). The effects appear to be driven by differences in pharyngeal morphology and competitive ability; redear exert greater crushing forces and consume more snails than sympatric pumpkinseeds (Huckins 1997). When introduced into a water body, Huckins et al. (2000) found that competition between the two species resulted in a 56% reduction in pumpkinseed abundance, and a 69% reduction in average snail biomass when compared with lakes without redear.

Hybridizes with other Lepomis species (Scribner et al. 2001).

Remarks: Robison and Buchanan (1988) reported redear sunfish as widely stocked in Arkansas in ponds and reservoirs, presumably in native waters. Menhinick (1991) listed this species as "regarded as native but possibly introduced" and "introduced" into the Catawba, Yadkin, Lumber, and Waccamaw drainages. Stauffer et al. (1995) differed with other authors (Lee et al. 1980 et seq. and Jenkins and Burkhead 1994) in reporting this species as native to the Potomac, Big Sandy, Kanawha, and Little Kanawha drainages, and Ohio basin. No records exist for New York (Whittier and Hartel 1997).

Redear, and to a lesser extent pumpkinseed, are the only known morphologically and behaviorally specialized molluscivores in the sunfish family (Huckins et al. 2000). The ability of these sunfish to crush hard-shelled organisms provides a set of food resources that are less effectively used by other sunfishes, facilitating cohabitation with other sport fish such as bluegill and bass (VanderKooy et al. 2000).

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FishBase Summary

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

Revision Date: 9/12/2019

Peer Review Date: 4/12/2013

Citation Information:
Fuller, P., G. Jacobs, M. Cannister, J. Larson, A. Fusaro, T.H. Makled, and M. Neilson, 2024, Lepomis microlophus (Günther, 1859): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=390, Revision Date: 9/12/2019, Peer Review Date: 4/12/2013, Access Date: 4/13/2024

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.


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. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [4/13/2024].

Contact us if you are using data from this site for a publication to make sure the data are being used appropriately and for potential co-authorship if warranted.

For general information and questions about the database, contact Wesley Daniel. For problems and technical issues, contact Matthew Neilson.