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#261792 - 06/12/11 09:15 PM Sunfish vs Pumpkinseed vs Blue Gill
TMK Offline
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Registered: 11/27/07
Posts: 125
Loc: Michigan
I'm looking at dozens of photos on the internet and I'm at a loss to tell the difference between the three because each of the three species seem to have a wide variation in coloring and patterns that seem to overlap. Can anyone shed some light on this problem?
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#261796 - 06/12/11 09:40 PM Re: Sunfish vs Pumpkinseed vs Blue Gill [Re: TMK]
Bluegillerkiller Offline
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Registered: 09/08/09
Posts: 3536
Loc: Illinois, St. louis area
Identify them on this site for good answers.. People commonly call fish different names they are usually called the right name on this site..
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#261820 - 06/13/11 08:27 AM Re: Sunfish vs Pumpkinseed vs Blue Gill [Re: Bluegillerkiller]
CJBS2003 Offline
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Registered: 01/19/09
Posts: 10457
Loc: northern VA
Pumpkinseed(PS) and Bluegill(BG) are both species of "sunfish". Sunfish is not a specific species but rather a group of closely related species. There are in fact over a dozen species of sunfish and even the black basses, crappies among others are considered to be in the sunfish family.

IDing species of sunfish comes down to morphology of the fish and less with coloration. As you get better, you can use coloration, but if you use coloration alone, you will make many misidentifications. The best web site for IDing sunfish with is: http://bio.slu.edu/mayden/sunfish/sun_key/1.html

Another good one is: http://www.tnfish.org/FishIdentificationID_TWRA/TWRA_Sunfish_Identification_Key.htm

Coloration in sunfish varies with many factors. Regional variations, water chemistry the fish is found in, the sex of the fish and the time of year it's caught all factor in. Some sunfish species even have subspecies. BG for example have 3 scientifically recognized subspecies. Each has a different coloration, hence the nickname of Coppernose BG for the subspecies of BG which was originally found in FL.


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#261830 - 06/13/11 10:11 AM Re: Sunfish vs Pumpkinseed vs Blue Gill [Re: CJBS2003]
ewest Offline
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Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 18910
Loc: Miss.


Edited by ewest (06/13/11 10:13 AM)
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#261835 - 06/13/11 12:03 PM Re: Sunfish vs Pumpkinseed vs Blue Gill [Re: ewest]
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 11947
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
I agree fully with CJ. Both links for sunfish ID are quite good. As noted by CJ - Beware that using coloration of sufish alone is very tenuous or risky for positive identification. Note that the first Sunfish ID link depends little on fish coloration for identification. Color of sunfish can change dramatically with primarily habitat type, maturity, and spawning season plus a few others. Hybrid sunfish can sometimes be commmon occurrences especially since hybrid sunfish are commonly stocked in ponds/lakes. Cross breeding of these introduced hybrids with other BG, GSF, or RES makes positive identification sometimes difficult in a pond or lake. Note the two bluegill are both males shown in the Tennessee link above. Female BG normally have a slightly or noticably different coloration depending on several factors.


Edited by Bill Cody (06/13/11 12:11 PM)
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#261861 - 06/13/11 08:34 PM Re: Sunfish vs Pumpkinseed vs Blue Gill [Re: Bill Cody]
CJBS2003 Offline
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Registered: 01/19/09
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Loc: northern VA
One thing nice about a private pond is the species present are generally known. Occasionally other species find their way in, but these species are usually well known such as the GSF. If you only stocked BG and RES into your pond, you can be fairly certain what you are catching is either a BG or RES...

Now if you are fishing an open water such as a river, that is not the case. There are rivers where there may be in excess of a dozen species of sunfish to try to tell apart.
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