Friday, August 10, 2012

Pumpkinseed

Lepomis gibbosus
The Pumpkinseed is a species of small freshwater fish that belongs to the same genus as the Bluegill. They once had a range that spread only through eastern North America, but they can now be found all the way west to the Pacific Coast. Pumpkinseeds have also been introduced in Europe, where they are considered an invasive species (due to their competing with other fish for food).

Pumpkinseeds have body shapes similar to their namesake, and have scales that range from brown to olive green. They also have small speckles across their bodies, and faint vertical lines. The coloration is more vibrant and pronounced during the breeding season. The Pumpkinseeds' scales are used for protection-- they are able to reflect back their surroundings and serve as camouflage.

The species is most commonly calm, clear waters. They are active during the day, feeding on insects and small aquatic creatures both at the surface and near the bottom. At night they hide out in submerged plants and other covered areas.

During the breeding season males will actually build little nests in the lake floor, sweeping away rocks and debris and making an indent. These nests are often built in small colonies, and are sometimes intermingled with Bluegill nests (Bluegills and Pumpkinseeds sometimes school together, and will even interbreed). Females can lay up to 1,700 eggs, and will sometimes lay them in multiple nests. They leave after the laying is done. Males hang around until the eggs hatch (around 3 days) and will actually guard their new offspring for up to two weeks. If they wander off the dads will even return them back to the nests in their mouth!

Pumpkinseeds are often fished up by anglers, due to the fact that they swim close to shore and will take worms very easily. They are sometimes a source of some frustration though, as they'll often bite when fishermen are going after larger fare.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : North America
Size : Length up to 8in (20cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Actinopterygii -- Order : Perciformes
Family : Centrarchidae -- Genus : Lepomis -- Species : L. gibbosus

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