The term “sunfish” is a broad term that is given to categorize a lot of small freshwater fish species. Technically, sunfish are a group of a number of small or large fish species belonging to the “Centrarchidae” family which in turn belongs to the Perciformes order. There are 37 species belonging to the Centrarchidae family which means that in total 37 species of fish constitute the term sunfish. Popular sunfish species include rock bass, crappies, the true sunfish, bluegill, and the pumpkinseed.
Among many fishermen, sunfish are usually referred to as panfish as most of the species of the fishes which constitute the sunfish family aptly fit the definition of a panfish. In technical terms, panfish and sunfish are not exactly similar but do show a similar tendency in some aspects.
ESSENTIAL LIFE FACTS OF FRESHWATER SUNFISH
From outer appearances, on an average most sunfish species have rough scales along with 10-12 dorsal spines and at least 3 anal spines. Almost all species in the sunfish family are small in size and usually range in 20-30 cms in length. All species under the sunfish family are defined as warm water species and also show a tendency to live in a similar habitat to each other. Surprisingly, all fishes under this head belong to the carnivorous side and they hunt for fishes smaller than their own size.
Sunfishes form a nest instead of scattering alone in the water. The largest fish species under the sunfish family is the true sunfish. This particular species isn’t much popular among fishermen however it’s a great source of forage for a huge number of predators. These species are found in a big abundance in their native habitats and usually roam in a nest. Thus, they provide a nice offer for other predators to hunt for them.
Most commonly, the freshwater sunfish are located at areas with heavy vegetation along with slow water current. Some species under the sunfish family have a high angling interest, especially among recreational fishermen. Interestingly, some of the species under the sunfish family have also been reported as an invasive fish species in a few areas. This is mainly due to their tolerance and ability to adapt to unknown habitats and environments.
Due to their size, they don’t offer much of a fight on being caught but are aggressive by nature. In fact, they do everything they can to get released when fished. Nearly all of the species in the sunfish family are edible but they aren’t quite a popular species among commercial fishermen mainly due to lack of their demand. In most areas, their population is ever rising and is controlled by natural predation. However, stunting has also been used to control overpopulated areas.