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Redear sunfish

The Redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus), also known as the Shellcracker, Georgia bream, Cherry gill, Chinquapin, Improved bream, and Sun perch, is native to the southeastern United States, but since it is a popular sport fish it has been introduced to bodies of water all over North America. It generally resembles the bluegill except for coloration. It is dark-colored dorsally and yellow-green ventrally. The male has a cherry-red edge on its operculum; females have orange coloration in this area. The adult fish is between 7.87 and 9.45 in (20 and 24 cm) in length.

The favorite food of this species is snails. These fish are bottom feeders, meandering along lakebeds seeking and cracking open snails and other shelled creatures. The fish has thick pharyngeal teeth, hard, movable plates in its throat, which allow it to crunch exoskeletons. It is even capable of opening small clams. The specialization of this species for the deep-water, mollusk-feeding niche allows it to be introduced to lakes without the risk of competition with fish that prefer shallower water or surface-feeding.

During spawning, males congregate and create nests close together in colonies, and females visit to lay eggs. The Redear sometimes hybridizes with other sunfish species.

Redear sunfish


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