Orangespotted sunfish

Orangespotted sunfish

Characteristics

large mouth that extends to front of eye when closed; spiny dorsal fin with 10 spines, directly connected to soft part of fin; long gill flap with vivid orange spots on the side; medium gill raker length; sides olive colored with fine golden or emerald dots

Distribution

Orangespotted sunfish Distribution

statewide

Foods

aquatic insects, crustaceans, and occasionally other small fish

State Record

none

Expert Tip

Details

This colorful, small sunfish is widely distributed throughout Iowa. It is most commonly found in the man-made lakes, natural lakes and interior streams. It is occasionally observed in the Mississippi and rare in the Missouri River.

The orangespot is a moderately deep-bodied, slab-sided sunfish with a large mouth that extends to the front of the eye when the mouth is closed. The spiny dorsal fin has 10 spines and is directly connected to the soft part of the fin. Pectoral fins are short and rounded, usually not reaching past the eye when extended in a forward position. The opercular flap is long and black with a whitish margin. The most striking features of the orangespotted sunfish are the vivid red or orange spots on the sides of males and the more subdued brownish-orange spots on females. The sides are olive colored with profuse sprinkling of fine golden and emerald dots. Pelvic and anal fins are fringed in black.

Like most sunfish family members, the orangespot is an omnivorous feeder, taking a wide variety of crustaceans and aquatic insects, both adult and larval forms, and on occasion foraging on small fish.

The orangespotted sunfish spawns by nesting in colonies with the male fish constructing a nest by excavating a small depression in the sand or gravel in typical sunfish fashion. Since this is the smallest sunfish member, it also builds the smallest nests. Spawning lasts from May through August at which time the males are so brightly colored they appear to be painted artificials. The male stays with the nest for about 5 days or until the eggs hatch.

Orangespots reach about an inch in length by the end of their first year of life and grow to about 2 inches in the second year. Growth continues at about one inch each year for the first 4 years. Adults mature at about 2 inches in length and fish longer than 4 inches are very rare in Iowa.


Return
Present in these Iowa water bodies:
Lake/Stream County Location Acres/Length
Pool 19, Mississippi River Lee Amenities listed are at City of Ft. Madison boat ramp. Amenities vary by location in Pool 19 33500.00
Pool 18, Mississippi River Louisa Amenities listed are for the Toolsboro Ramp. The ramp at Toolsboro is paved but the road to the ramp is gravel. There is some shore fishing along the parking area and at the outlet of Lake Odessa. Amenities vary by location in pool 18 13300.00
Pool 16, Mississippi River Scott The amenities list are for Buffalo Shores campground in Buffalo, Iowa. Amenities at other locations in Pool 16 vary by location. 13000.00
Pool 17, Mississippi River Muscatine Amenities list for Muscatine City Ramp. This ramp is located in downtown Muscatine. Amenities vary by location in Pool 17. 7580.00
Coralville Reservoir Johnson 4 miles north of Iowa City 5280.00
Lake Macbride Johnson 4 miles West of Solon 940.00
West Swan Lake S.W.M.A. Emmet 3m SE Gruver 379.00
Swan Lake Dickinson 2m N Superior 371.00
Iowa River (Marshalltown to Coralville Lake) Iowa This stretch is located in Marshall, Tama, the SW corner of Benton, Iowa, and Johnson County. A popular access is at the Hwy 21 Access, which is part of the Iowa River Corridor Wildlife Area, just south of Belle Plaine. 104.00
Missouri River (Sioux City to Little Sioux) Harrison Chris Larsen Park: 1280 Larsen Park Road/Sioux City, IA. Located on the Sioux City riverfront along the Missouri River. Larsen Park offers 110 acres on the Sioux City Riverfront. Managed by the City of Sioux City. 64.00
Missouri River (Council Bluffs to state line) Fremont Lake Manawa State Park: 1100 South Shore Drive/Council Bluffs, IA 51501 phone: 712-366-0220. Managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Lake Manawa State Park has boat ramps on the Missouri River within the park. 61.00
Little Sioux River (Correctionville to Missouri R) Harrison Little Sioux Park, 2 miles SW of Correctionville, Woodberry County Conservation Board 57.00
Missouri River (Little Sioux to Council Bluffs) Pottawattamie Wilson Island State Recreation Area: 32801 Campground Lane/Missouri Valley, IA 51555 phone-712-642-2069. Managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wilson Island Recreation Area has 544 acres along the Missouri River near Missouri Valley Iowa. 53.00
Bartlett Lake Fremont ½ mile west of Bartlett 22.00
Wapsi River Trout Section Mitchell Located 0.5 mile west of McIntire. 2.50