Members of the Centrarchidae are flattened, brightly colored, ‘pan-fish’. The most unique feature of longear sunfish is their elongated gill cover, or opercular flap, giving an appearance of a ‘long ear’. They are relatively small sunfish with individuals are usually 71 to 94 mm in length, although one 240 mm fish was found in Michigan. Females are generally slightly smaller than males. Mature males are generally brighter and have a more pronounced opercular flap than females, up to 230 mm long.
Longear sunfish are greenish to rusty brown on the back, with lighter colored sides and yellow to orange-red bellies. They have bright specks of blue, green, yellow, and orange along the back and sides. Their cheeks are orange with wavy blue streaks near their mouths and eyes. The opercular flap is black and bordered with light red to yellow. Males who are breeding become bright iridescent green on the back and bright orange on the belly, and the fins turn a deep rusty orange color.
Longear sunfish are easily confused with several closely related species, including: L. gibbosus, L. macrochirus, L. microlophus and L. humilis.
Range length: 240 (high) mm.
Average length: 71-94 mm.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; male more colorful
Average mass: 434.5 g.
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