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Freshwater Fish Identification

Redbreast Sunfish

Lepomis auritus

Specimen Photo

Other names: Yellowbelly sunfish, redbreasted bream
Status: Texas nongame fish

Description

This sunfish possesses a yellow belly that is sometimes an orange or a rusty color. It might have been better named the longear, as its opercle flap or ear is considerably longer than the opercle flap of the longear sunfish. In adults, the ear often reaches a length of one inch or more; it is narrow and usually not wider than the eye. The lower margin of the flap is usually pale. The redbreast is one of our larger sunfish, occasionally attaining weights of one pound.

Angling Importance

At one time, this sunfish was raised by state hatcheries and widely distributed. Good populations of large redbreast can be found in the clear streams of central Texas, primarily in the San Marcos area.

Biology

In typical sunfish fashion, the redbreast spawns in beds or colonies on sand or gravel where the water is one to three feet deep. After hatching, the young may remain schooled for several weeks before scattering. Adults feed on insects, snails, crayfish, and small fish.

Distribution

Redbreast sunfish were introduced into Texas from their original range, the streams of the eastern US that drain into the Atlantic Ocean. This species now occurs throughout the eastern and southern parts of Texas as far west as some streams of the Pecos drainage.

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