NANFA-- Dollar Sunfishes and other Southern Species

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Wed, 07 May 2003 01:31:19 -0400


Dollar Sunfishes can be tough to sex when they are young but as they
mature, the males are larger and more colorful than the females- very
much like Longear Suns. There are at least 3 distinct populations of
this species that I probably never would have known about were it not
for Ray Wolff who showed me his collection when I visited him in 2000.

Ray had breeders from the Missisippi basin (I was also breeding these
at the time) plus the Carolinas and Peninsular Florida. The males of
these populations are as distinct from each other as they are from

Best way to get a breeding group of sunfish is to get something like a
dozen small ones and raise them to maturity. If fed well this should
take a season. I started out in 1997 with four Louisiana dollars that BG
sent me in leiu of the Bantam Sunfishes that I wanted but were difficult
for him to get at the time and I got lucky enough to end up with a male
and 3 females that spawned prolifically in my outside pond a year later.
The following season I added 3 more full grown males from Mark Binkley
that were caught on hook and line in W. Tennessee. I think these may
have been slightly different than the ones from LA but they had really
nice colors so I didn't care.

I managed to keep these around for a few years until we had a colder
than usual winter in 2000 - 2001 that wiped them out. I started over
again with stock from a little flatwoods pond in North Carolina that
Fritz Rhode put us onto in October 2001 and I wintered them over and
realeased them in my pond last spring.

They grew well and I think some of the larger ones may even have spawned
last summer but alas this past winter was really devastating and not
only did I loose them but even a few hardier species as well.

So I'm starting over again with a second batch that Mike Quispe and I
collected from the same site on our visit to Wilmington last month.
These are not as as colorful as the ones I had from Mark and BG but they
are Dollar Suns and they were easier to come by- plus catching them
yourself makes it a little more fun.

Despite the recent trend to colder winters I now have a working
greenhouse with a small pond inside that sheltered my population of
Fundulus escambiae, Coastal Shiners and Bluefin Killies. Plus there is
the option of replacing some of my olive barrels with cylindrical
fiberglass tanks that could double as wintering space for questionably
hardy fishes and thermal storage.

To save fuel I kept my thermostat around 50 degrees which is probably a
good wintering temperature for fishes native to southern states.
Definitely safer than wintering in coolers in the garage or taking a
chance in the outside ponds.

Nice to see that others are doing interesting stuff this spring.
I have also been following the Mysteryman's thread about the Flagfin
Shiners and am looking forward to similar success with the closely
related Sailfin Shiner. I recieved a batch of these last fall but I
don't think any of them survived the winter. They may have been older
spawned out fish.

On the other hand the Coastal Shiners which were origionally thought to
be Taillight Shiners spawned very prolifically in the greenhouse pond
last summer.

Now if I can get Sailfins or Taillights to do that- I'd have it made!

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