GWAPA – June 2008 – Bob Bock – Sunfish

June 28th, 2008

GWAPAAt GWAPA’s June 2008 meeting, we invited Bob Bock, past president of the North American Native Fishes Association, to speak about native sunfish. While this doesn’t sound much like a “plant topic,” we asked Bob to be sure to let us know which fish throughout his presentation would be suitable for a nicely aquascaped tank. Otherwise, since many American aquarists are unfamiliar with fishes in their backyard waterways, we felt it was a beneficial topic regardless.

Bob Bock

The theme of Bob’s presentation consisted of comparing how sunfish, though unrelated to cichlids, exhibit rather similar behaviors. They are both intelligent fishes, care for their young, feed by sight, and are widely distributed throughout their areas. Conversely, sunfish have far fewer species, are solely predatory in diet, and don’t exist below some portions of Mexico. Bob then proceeded to discuss in detail many of the species within the Lepomis genus of sunfish.

Pumpkinseed - Lepomis gibbosus

One of the species that I had been looking forward to hear about was the Pumpkinseed sunfish, or Lepomis gibbosus. A beautiful fish (shown above), it is unfortunately not very well suited for a planted aquarium because it grows a tad bit too large, and uproots plants to nest. It can also be quite agressive, and thus would require much larger tank sizes.

Longear sunfish - Lepomis megalotis

A better suggestion might be the Longear sunfish (above), which is a medium-sized sunfish, just as beautiful, and can be kept more managebly in aquariums. Bob also mentioned how Longear males develop a lump on their heads with age similar to the flowerhorn cichlid.

Blackbanded Sunfish - Enneacanthus chaetodon

Bob also mentioned another nice aquarium dwarf sunfish called the Blackbanded Sunfish, or Enneacanthus chaetodon, which he keeps several. Unfortunately for me, these are protected fish, and Bob had to obtain a permit to collect and breed them. Nevertheless, I very much enjoyed the presentation today, and hope to sometime collect and keep a few species of native fishes.

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