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Fact File

Scientific Name: Lepomis gibbosus

Classification: Fish, Order Perciformes, Family Centrarchidae

Size: Pumpkinseed average 4 to 6 inches in length in Virginia

Life Span: About 6 years in Virginia

Identifying Characteristics

An image of a pumpkinseed for identification purposes

A Pumpkinseed rests in a holding tank.

  • Mottled sides, often darker along the dorsal area
  • Gill cover flap is edged with white, yellow, or blue surrounding a half-moon segment of red
  • Sides can be dominated by yellows, blues, and oranges with a checkerboard pattern present
  • Abdomen is yellow or orange
  • Cheeks and gill covers marked with alternating worm-shaped bands of blue-green and yellow-orange
  • Spines on the first dorsal and anal fin


Insects, crustaceans, and small mollusks.


Pumpkinseed are native to Virginia’s coastal plain, piedmont, and much of the blue-ridge. Introduced populations exist in the New River basin.


Pumpkinseed can be found in shallower waters of lakes, ponds and streams where there is heavy vegetative cover.

An image of a coastal plain tributary of Virginia; the brackish and foliated habitat is ideal for Pumpkinseeds

A coastal plain tributary in Virginia, representative of areas where Pumpkinseed are commonly found.


Pumpkinseed spawn in late spring or early summer. Males fan out circular nests in gravels near the shoreline, often in as little as 6 to 12 inches of water. Pumpkinseed are very prolific spawners, capable of spawning more than once a year.

Last updated: April 30, 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.