Redear Sunfish (Lepomis microlophus)

Last updated on July 3rd, 2022 at 11:49 am

The redear sunfish, or redear as it’s often called, is a colorful and lively fish that makes an excellent choice if you’re looking to add something special to your freshwater aquarium. They are native to rivers and lakes across North America, ranging from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River, and they are known to school up in large numbers during mating season.

There are many different species of sunfish, but they share similar care needs and can often be housed together if their tank is large enough. One common variety, the redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus), also goes by the name redeye or shellcracker, but whether you call it one thing or another, this fish isn’t as difficult to take care of as some other varieties are.

The redear sunfish is an easy fish to care for if you have the right tank set up and an understanding of what it needs to thrive. However, if you’re considering keeping one as your first fish, keep in mind that it has a lifespan of about 3-4 years, so it might not be the best option for younger children who want a pet they can grow up with.

This article will walk you through everything you need to know about keeping redears in your aquarium, including what conditions they prefer, what tank mates are safe, and how best to feed them.

Origin and descriptions

redear sunfish

Lepomis microlophus is commonly known as the redear sunfish. It has seven recognized subspecies. These fish are native to North America and are considered to be highly adaptable and generalist species (Meek et al., 2003). They have been introduced in many areas, including Europe.

The redear sunfish is generally found near the water’s edge along ponds, lakes, rivers, and smaller streams. When fully grown, it is typically 12 inches long and will weigh less than 3 ounces. This makes it one of the smallest members of its family. Breeding occurs with reddish-orange eggs being laid among underwater plant matter. Each female will deposit an average of 500 eggs over a period of 4-5 days.

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Lepomis microlophus requires proper care if you wish for it to survive longer than its wild counterparts. Unfortunately, there isn’t very much research on aquarium populations because most aquarists don’t keep their lepomis living past 2 years old.

Species profile

The redear sunfish is a small fish native to North America, and from the Centrarchidae family. It grows up to 12 inches in length and can weigh as much as 2 pounds. The body of an adult redear is mottled with orange and brown, while its head has large scales, which makes it look vaguely like an enormous goldfish when viewed from above. Fish under four months old have brown-tipped fins, but these are replaced by orange after about five months. They typically feed on insects, crustaceans, and worms.

The Life Cycle of a Redear Sunfish: Juvenile redears exhibit parental care within three days of hatching; mother fishes will select good shelter for their young—often rocky crevices or root tangles—and then remain close to protect them from predators until they’re ready to swim on their own at two weeks old.

Redear sunfish habitat

The redear sunfish is native to both North America and parts of Central America. In recent years, however, it has been introduced into Europe as well as parts of Asia. If you want to keep your fish in their natural habitat, you should set up an aquarium that measures at least 200 gallons in size and mimics their natural habitat as closely as possible. You will need large rocks or driftwood pieces with some plants.

Plants are crucial since they provide cover against predators. A substrate of sand, leaf litter, and small pebbles are ideal; if you wish to use gravel make sure it’s extremely fine so that your fish won’t eat it! A power filter also helps maintain clean water while allowing beneficial bacteria to colonize within it which breaks down waste products.

Redear sunfish size and weight

This species can grow up to 12 inches (30.5 cm) in length and weigh around 2 pounds (about 1 kg)

Redear sunfish tank size

Due to their large size, the minimum recommended tank size for this species is 200 gallons.

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Tank Requirements

The redear sunfish requires an aquarium that can hold at least 150 gallons of water. A 200-gallon tank is ideal, as it allows space for proper filtration and circulation, but 150 gallons can also be used as long as you’re careful about water quality. While these fish are relatively hardy, they do have special care requirements.

Water temperature should be kept between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit; temperatures outside of that range may stress or kill your fish. Likewise, pH levels must stay within 7.0 to 8.0—aquariums with high levels of nitrate often display higher pH levels than that on their own—so using a water conditioner is essential when setting up or maintaining your aquarium.

Since all goldfish have air bladders that enable them to control their buoyancy in water, you must ensure these bladders don’t collapse by maintaining low nitrogen content in your tank. Maintaining good oxygenation throughout your tank will prevent these bladders from becoming distended. Finally, if you plan to keep a pair of male redears together, they need plenty of room; while females get along fine in small tanks, males will fight each other until one establishes dominance over his tankmates.

Redear sunfish tank mates

Keep your sunfish in a community tank with other smaller fish that stay out of trouble and won’t pick on it. Barbs, danios, small tetras, guppies, and zebra danios are all good choices for companions. Be aware that schooling fish like danios, who tend to be quite active swimmers, may be stressful for your sunfish (they prefer calmer waters). In such cases, try keeping only one or two danios (or other active fish) at first—and monitor closely to see if they settle down over time. Goldfish shouldn’t be kept in tanks less than 150 gallons.

Redear sunfish breeding

redear sunfish

A redear sunfish pair will typically spawn once per day, releasing approximately 150-300 eggs. These eggs are sticky and attach themselves to any available surface (such as plants or leaves) until they are able to swim on their own. It is possible that redears may spawn multiple times per day if weather conditions are optimal, but only one time per day is necessary in order for breeding to succeed.

Spawning usually occurs around morning time and takes anywhere from 2-20 minutes. During spawning, both parents take part in guarding their clutch of eggs by following them until they hatch into larvae. This can take anywhere from 24 hours to two weeks depending on environmental factors such as temperature, water quality, and light levels.

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Eggs most often hatch at night when temperatures tend to be cooler than during daytime hours. Once hatched into larvae, fish spend most of their time feeding near the surface of shallow areas that are rich with food sources such as microalgae and phytoplankton. Fish raised in captivity develop coloration more quickly than those in nature; however, it can still take anywhere from 5–12 months before young redears develop a dark stripe along their lateral line and brown vertical stripes across their body.

The adult redear’s diet consists mainly of insects and small crustaceans which they consume along shorelines while swimming in small schools containing an average of 20 individuals each.

Are Redear sunfish aggressive or peaceful?

They are generally peaceful and are good community fish. However, they will attack their own species or similar-looking species, so be sure not to put them with other sunfish or anything else that looks like it might be confused with another sunfish. Their aggressiveness can make them useful in controlling algae but otherwise, most people keep them only because they’re beautiful.

Redear sunfish care

redear sunfish

Like many sunfish, redears need plenty of room in a community tank and plenty of places to hide. A good rule of thumb is that each fish should have about 150 gallons of water, so in general, one male can be kept with four or five females. The fish can survive in water as cold as 50 degrees F (10 degrees C), but they are more active when warmer and will breed at 78 degrees F (25 degrees C). They can also tolerate moderately soft water better than most freshwater species.

Feed them mainly on worms, insect larvae, and small crustaceans such as mosquito wrigglers. Try to keep them out of sight during feeding time; like all sunfish, they become easily intimidated by fast movements or anything resembling a predator. When cleaning their tank, occasionally feed them fresh bloodworms from your fingers; it’s fun and it makes them much easier to catch later on!

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Redear sunfish food

Redear sunfish are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. They’re very aggressive feeders and will hunt down whatever is easiest to capture. Their main diet consists of aquatic insects, mollusks, crustaceans, and fish. They will also feed on algae in their environment if they get hungry enough. Don’t let their small size fool you: these little guys can eat more than twice their body weight in food each day!

Redear sunfish lifespan

This fish lives up to 8 years if well taken care of. However, if it is neglected and not fed properly, it will most likely only live 5 or 6 years.

Parasites and diseases

redear sunfish

Unfortunately, it’s fairly common for freshwater aquarium fish to become infected with parasites or suffer from some kind of disease such as ich. Luckily, most of these illnesses are relatively easy to treat, but if you don’t do something about them, your fish will die.

The best thing you can do is learn how each potential illness manifests itself and get familiar with treatment options so that you can recognize symptoms early and act accordingly.

To minimize the risk of disease and parasites, do not overstock your aquarium; one male with three or four females is usually fine. Quarantine new fish in a separate tank before adding them to your main aquarium. Keep water quality high by cleaning filter cartridges regularly and changing at least 20 percent of the water every other week, more often if needed. Do not overfeed your fish and make sure you use proper netting when catching them for food.

Redear sunfish predators

One of your first steps in caring for your redear sunfish is determining what could possibly harm it. In addition to other sunfish, such as bluegill and crappie, predators include bigger fish such as bass, muskies, and pike. You can also keep bullfrogs or crayfish in your pond so they’ll eat any harmful insects or larvae that come near your redears.

Do Redear sunfish make good pets?

Yes. Though not as common in home aquariums as bluegill or channel catfish, redear sunfish can make fantastic additions to freshwater aquariums. But like all fish, they require some basic care and maintenance to live long, healthy lives.