Public Works and Environmental Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our administrative offices are open to the public by appointment only at this time. Please call or email 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

703-324-5500
TTY 711

12000 Government Center Parkway
Suite 449, Fairfax, Va 22035

Shannon Curtis,
Chief, Watershed Assessment Branch

Sunfish - Family Centrarchidae

A Little Longer Than Tall
A Little Longer Than Tall
Much Longer Than Tall
Much Longer Than Tall
Two Dorsal Fin
Two Dorsal Fin

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BLACKCRAPPIE - Pomoxis nigromaculatus

BLACKCRAPPIE

BLACKCRAPPIE - Pomoxis nigromaculatus

Scientific Name: Pomoxis nigromaculatus
Fairfax County Native: Unknown, as it has been widely introduced
Size: 12 inches, rarely to 17 inches
Diet: Primarily fish as adults, invertebrates and fish as juveniles
Distribution sampling sites: Map

The black crappie is a member of the sunfish family and one of the most popular sunfish to catch by fisherman. Black crappies are generally found in lakes, ponds and slow moving large rivers. Specimens found in county streams are most likely individuals that were dislodged from ponds and lakes by heavy rains.

 

BLUEGILL - Lepomis macrochirus

BLUEGILL

BLUEGILL - Lepomis macrochirus

Scientific Name: Lepomis macrochirus
Fairfax County Native: No
Size: 10 inches, rarely to 12 inches
Diet: Small aquatic and terrestrial insects
Distribution sampling sites: Map

With its tolerance of a wide range of environmental conditions, the bluegill has become the most common sunfish in Fairfax County.

 

BLUESPOTTED SUNFISH - Enneacanthus gloriosus

BLUESPOTTED SUNFISH

BLUESPOTTED SUNFISH - Enneacanthus gloriosus

Scientific Name: Enneacanthus gloriosus
Fairfax County Native: Yes
Size: 3 to 4 inches
Diet: Insects and other small invertebrates
Distribution sampling sites: Map

The bluespotted sunfish is rare in Fairfax County with only one juvenile specimen collected in the tidal portion of Dogue Creek.

 

GREEN SUNFISH - Lepomis cyanellus

GREEN SUNFISH

GREEN SUNFISH - Lepomis cyanellus

Scientific Name: Lepomis cyanellus
Fairfax County Native: No
Size: 7 inches, rarely to 10 inches
Diet: Primarily aquatic and terrestrial insects, but will eat small fish
Distribution sampling sites: Map

The green sunfish is tolerant of environmental disturbances but isintolerant of low pH. This sunfish has a large mouth compared to othersunfish and feeds mostly on aquatic and terrestrial insects.

 

LARGEMOUTH BASS- Micropterus salmoides

LARGEMOUTH BASS

LARGEMOUTH BASS- Micropterus salmoides

Scientific Name: Micropterus salmoides
Fairfax County Native: No
Size: 18 inches, rarely to 26 inches
Diet: Insects, fish, crayfish and frogs
Distribution sampling sites: Map

The largemouth bass is one of the most popular sporting fish in the country. This species is not native to our area and has been introduced to most of the continental U.S. The Virginia state record is 16 pounds, 4ounces.

LONGEAR SUNFISH - Lepomis megalotis

LONGEAR SUNFISH

LONGEAR SUNFISH - Lepomis megalotis

Scientific Name: Lepomis megalotis
Fairfax County Native: No
Size: 6 inches, rarely to 9 inches
Diet: Aquatic and terrestrial insects
Distribution sampling sites: Map

The longear sunfish is native to the southwestern portion of Virginia and has been introduced to our area. It is a brilliantly colored fish during the breeding season.

PUMPKINSEED - Lepomis gibbosus

PUMPKINSEED

PUMPKINSEED - Lepomis gibbosus

Scientific Name: Lepomis gibbosus
Fairfax County Native: Yes
Size: 7 inches, rarely to 10 inches
Diet: Aquatic and terrestrial insects and other small invertebrates
Distribution sampling sites: Map

The pumpkinseed gets its name from its general body shape. It is ovaland compressed laterally. It is a freshwater fish that can travel into brackish water.

REDBREAST SUNFISH - Lepomis auritus

REDBREAST SUNFISH

REDBREAST SUNFISH - Lepomis auritus

Scientific Name: Lepomis auritus
Fairfax County Native: Yes
Size: 7 inches, rarely to 10 inches
Diet: Aquatic insects and other invertebrates
Distribution sampling sites: Map

As the name implies, the redbreast sunfish has a bright reddish orange belly. Mature adults sport a long black “tab” on their opercular (cheek area) flap.

REDEAR SUNFISH - Lepomis microlophus

REDEAR SUNFISH

REDEAR SUNFISH - Lepomis microlophus

Scientific Name: Lepomis microlophus
Fairfax County Native: No
Size: 10 inches, rarely to 15 inches
Diet: Snails, clams and aquatic insects
Distribution sampling sites: Map

This fish’s name refers to the red tab on its opercular (cheek area) flap. The redear sunfish is also called “shellcracker” because their diet consists of snails and small clams which requires them to crush the shells in order to eat them.

SMALLMOUTH BASS - Micropterus dolomieu

SMALLMOUTH BASS

SMALLMOUTH BASS - Micropterus dolomieu

Scientific Name: Micropterus dolomieu
Fairfax County Native: No
Size: 17 inches, rarely to 20 inches
Diet: Crayfish, fish and aquatic insects
Distribution sampling sites: Map

The smallmouth bass is enjoyed by anglers for its hard fight and its tendency to jump out of the water when hooked. The popularity of the smallmouth bass as a game fish has led to its widespread distribution. The Virginia state record is 8 pounds, 1 ounce.

WARMOUTH - Lepomis gulosus

WARMOUTH

WARMOUTH - Lepomis gulosus

Scientific Name: Lepomis gulosus
Fairfax County Native: Unknown, but probably an introducedspecies
Size: 8 inches, rarely to 10 inches
Diet: Crayfish, aquatic insects and fish
Distribution sampling sites: Map

The warmouth’s common name is due to the stripes originating from the upper mouth and running through the eye that bear a resemblance to war paint.


References
Jenkins, R. E., N. M. Burkhead, 1994, Freshwater Fishes of Virginia,1079 pgs., American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD

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