The green sunfish has a large mouth and a heavy, squarish thick body shape. Their gill cover is dark bluish-black typically with a yellowish-orange margin. Body coloration is dark green to bluish-green with a yellowish underside. Fins frequently yellow edged.
Greenies are a versatile species, tolerating a wide range of environmental conditions. They nest in shallow water in tightly packed colonies. Gravel bottom sites are preferred. When water temperatures rise above 70°F spawning begins, and may occur throughout the summer. Green sunfish frequently hybridize with other sunfish, such as bluegills. After the eggs are deposited, male defend the nest for approximately a week.
A prolific species, these sunfish frequently overpopulate in small lakes and ponds, resulting in stunted fish. As a result green sunfish rarely reach a desirable size for angling, with a typical fish being 3-6 inches. The world record is 2 pounds 2 ounces.
Green sunfish are highly predaceous taking just about anything small enough to fit in their mouths. Insects, small fish, small crayfish, and frogs are all on the menu. This makes them one of the easiest fish to catch and an excellent fish to teach kids the basics of fishing.
Green Sunfish in Texas
The green sunfish, like warmouth, has a large mouth and a heavy, black bass body shape. The body is dark green, almost blue, dorsally, fading to lighter green on the sides, and yellow to white ventrally. Faint vertical bars are apparent on the sides. Some scales have turquoise spots. Lepomis, the generic name, is Greek and means "scaled gill cover." The species epithet cyanellus is also Greek and means "blue.
The green sunfish is a very versatile species, able to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, and tends to do very well when competition with other sunfish is minimal. Its ability to tolerate environmental extremes makes it ideal for survival in prairie streams where conditions are not stable, and it is often the first sunfish species to repopulate depleted areas. Green sunfish nest in shallow water colonies where nests are often closely packed. Gravel or rocky bottom sites are usually preferred for nest building. Spawning occurs in late spring, when water temperatures rise above 70°F, and may continue throughout the summer. Hybridization with other sunfish species is very common. Males aggressively defend their nests for 6-7 days after eggs are deposited, at which time fry are usually free-swimming. Because of their enormous reproductive potential, green sunfish often overpopulate small lakes and ponds. Adults feed on insects and small fish.
Due to their propensity to overpopulate and so become stunted, green sunfish rarely reach a desirable size for angling. The largest reported specimen caught in Texas to date was 1.3 pounds. In private ponds, specimens over 2 pounds have been recorded.