Thirty species of sunfish are found in the freshwaters of Canada, the United States, and Central America. Although quite popular among European aquarists, sunfish have been, for some reason, neglected in American aquaculture. This is a shame, as all are very colorful, active, interesting fish that, for the most part, adjust well to aquarium life. From the tiny black banded sunfish,
Oval in shape, and with a golden brown background color mottled with iridescent blue and green spots, this alert fish is the rival of any tropical species in terms of beauty. The spotted pattern gives way to lines of blue-green around the head, and there is a bright red edge to the “ear flap” on the gill cover. Males in particular become quite brilliant during the breeding season.
The pygmy sunfish,
Found throughout the eastern half of the United States and Canada, pumpkinseeds grow to be 9 inches in length. They are extremely active and inquisitive fish, seeming to take notice of everything that occurs around their aquarium. Adults, however, become quite aggressive toward each other and are thus best kept as a pair.
As with all sunfish, the male pumpkinseed evacuates a circular nest in the substrate and stands guard over the developing eggs. During this time, he can be seen cleaning the nest and the eggs and aerating them with his pectoral fins. Breeding is most likely to occur in large, well planted aquariums that have been subjected to natural temperature and light fluctuations. The male seems not to venture far from the nest at this time, so be sure to feed him close to this area. Try not to disturb him, for he is quite high strung, even to the point of attacking any hands placed in the aquarium.
Pumpkinseeds are, like other sunfish, carnivorous and prefer to feed upon live foods such as insects, worms, and small fish. They can, however, often be induced to accept frozen meat based foods and freeze-dried items such as prawn.