Orange Spotted Sunfish are native to the central United States in the Mississippi drainage south of the Great Lakes. Through a number of introductions their range has expanded to as far south as the Rio Grande River. This sunfish prefers slow moving, turbid water and is most abundant in large muddy rivers and reservoirs.
These are a small deep bodied, highly compressed fish, typically less than four inches. Their terminal mouth is fairly large, extending almost to the eye. This colorful sunfish has greenish silver back and sides with scattered reddish orange spots. The belly is yellowish orange. Like most sunfish they sport a black ear flap, the difference being it has a pale green or whitish margin.
Typical of sunfish, spawning occurs in late spring or early summer. Males build nests in shallow water which they guard after spawning until the eggs hatch and the fry leave the nest. Life expectancy is approximately five years. Due to their small size few fish for them. Orange spotted sunfish feed primarily on small crustaceans, aquatic insects, and zooplankton.
Orangespotted Sunfish in Colorado
This colorful sunfish is native to the Colorado Arkansas and Repulican River drainages. Due to it's small size few anglers target it, and few recognize what they have caught when they do catch one.