Flier Fliers are distributed in Coastal Plain areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and in the lower Mississippi basin. This sunfish lives in muddy-bottomed swamps, ponds, weedy lakes, and river backwaters. They seek cover around submerged tree roots, aquatic vegetation, and other plant matter. Fliers tolerate acidic waters. Their preferred temperature range is from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fliers are small sunfish with a compressed, deep, roundish body and small mouth. Their backs range in color from greens to browns which lighten down the sides to cream colored underside. Each scale has a brown dot. Below the eye vertical streak extends to the lower edge of the gill plate. Fliers live up to eight years and can reach lengths of 12 inches, although, a typical flier will be five to seven inches.
Spawning when water temperatures reach 62 to 68 degrees, which is typically March in the South. As with other sunfish, males prep a nest, in which the female lays several thousand eggs. Fliers nest can occur either solo or in small colonies. The nest is guard by the males.
Fliers feed on insects, crustaceans, mollusks, worms, leeches, and small fish. Phytoplankton is consumed is limited amounts. Fliers are known surface feeders.