NANFA-- Sunfish spawning / Spring indoors in the dead heart of winter.

R. W. Wolff (
Wed, 15 Jan 2003 02:05:35 -0600

I finally figured out that the sunfish I keep inside over winter think the
new year means the new spawning season. Like clockwork nearly all species
with mates and old enough decide to get down to buisness. I have seen this
over the years, but am pretty sure that its the magic of longer days, though
the fish have little knowledge of what is going on outdoors, since some
light comes in through small windows across the room, way across the room.
Very little if any effect on the aquariums. They must know something is up.

This is kinda long...

The best one is the Dollar Sunfish. This is the western form, more
specifically orginally from Louisiana, a mix of three and four generations
ago. Now there is a fourth/fifth generation, and a double clutch in the
nest. There are wrigglers and free swimming young, possibly from two small
( under two inches) females.. In a 38 gallon tank, with some moss on
driftwood and those lava rocks with the caves cut in for cover. The big male
( 3 inch) has left the small (3/4ths to 1 3/4ths inch) dollars be for the
most part giving them just a slight beating, which is really considerate of
a Dollar. This strain of Dollar is really good at spawning in aquariums.
Large aquariums with multi species and they take over half a tank, and with
plenty of cover, some of the fry will grow into fish. They will keep
spawning now until I move them outside in the spring, or just slow down and
stop about April if kept inside. About every week and half the female is
ready. The male is always ready, and may make two nests side by side to
accomadate a female if the original still has wigglers. In other tanks a 20
long on the top rack. I moved some blackbanded sunfish from a cool bottom
rack tank up to here, and three turned out to be males, make nests, and the
fourth a female which they share. She prefers the smallest male. They often
just hover over the nest together. The males, though normally docile, get
quite beligerant with each , but leave miss chaetodon alone. Is it possible
this species has some bi-parental care? Not that I seen in my pond a few
years back. Three nest styles for three males. One is on roots of a plant,
one is a pressed down moss area, and the last has a slight depression in the
gravel. The last one is the least interested in keeping it up. This is the
one time you can tell the sexes of this species apart, since females keep,
or become more distinct, to their name sake. Males get a muddy color in the
black , but the metallics in some scales fire up. It's hard to explain. Too
bad for me, no eggs or fry visible yet. The rest of my indoor sunfish do not
have mates, are too young, or just being reluctant. However a pair of large
warmouth may be too cool (actually they are really cool as in neat), since
they are in a bottom tank in the coldest corner of the fishroom. Atleast
they are warmer than the fish who stayed on in the Gar River for winter.
Bluefin killis are also obviously going through the motions, as are some
Fundulus, but no fry to be seen to make sure this is more than a show. Some
North American Rivulus are spawning, but this goes on usually no matter
what. As for non-North American fish, the killis are as usual at it, but the
pink convicts do not know they are mostly destined to be warmouth food.
Revenge is sweet for the sunfish. Watching a warmouth inhale a half grown
convict is quite impressive. While in Florida quite the opposite is probably
happening with introduced cichlids that grow larger than convicts.

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