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Banded Sunfish

Fact File

Scientific Name: Enneacanthus obesus

Classification: Fish, Order Perciformes, Family Centrarchidae

Conservation Status:

Size: Banded Sunfish rarely exceed 3 inches in length within Virginia waters

Life Span: Banded Sunfish can live for about 4 years in Virginia

Identifying Characteristics

A Banded Sunfish in an observation tank. ©Photo by Maddie Cogar - DWR

A Banded Sunfish in an observation tank. ©Photo by Maddie Cogar – DWR

  • Body shape is moderately deep, laterally compressed
  • Rounded caudal and pectoral fins
  • A black bar extends vertically through the eye
  • Vertical bars present along the body
  • Opercular gill spot larger than its eye pupil
  • Many iridescent blue to green spots throughout the body

Diet

Banded Sunfish are opportunistic omnivores, feeding on whatever prey item is most readily available to them.

Distribution:

Banded Sunfish are native to the coastal plain of southeastern Virginia. They occur within the York, James, and Chowan watersheds.

Habitat

Virginia swamp habitat where Banded Sunfish can be found.

Virginia swamp habitat where Banded Sunfish can be found.

Banded Sunfish inhabit areas with dense submerged aquatic vegetation. They can thrive in the backwaters of Virginia’s large brackish tidal rivers, lower gradient piedmont streams, as well as the swamps and ponds that dot the landscape of the coastal plain region. Banded Sunfish, like other Enneacanthus species, do well in acidic waters that have minimal levels of dissolved oxygen.

Reproduction

A juvenile Banded Sunfish in an observation tank. ©Photo by Tim Aldridge

A juvenile Banded Sunfish in an observation tank. ©Photo by Tim Aldridge

Banded Sunfish spawn in early summer in Virginia. Banded Sunfish are colonial nesters, where a number of individuals will create several small depressions in schools near and within submerged aquatic vegetation. Like other sunfishes, male Banded Sunfish generally guard the nest until their young disperse.

Last updated: July 18, 2024

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Species Profile Database serves as a repository of information for Virginia’s fish and wildlife species. The database is managed and curated by the Wildlife Information and Environmental Services (WIES) program. Species profile data, distribution information, and photography is generated by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, State and Federal agencies, Collection Permittees, and other trusted partners. This product is not suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying use. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources does not accept responsibility for any missing data, inaccuracies, or other errors which may exist. In accordance with the terms of service for this product, you agree to this disclaimer.