Bluegill
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • Side view: The sides show diffuse vertical bars, 39-45 lateral line scales, the anal fin has 3 anal spines.
  • Side view: Notice the solid body with faint spots, the dark opercular flap, and a blotch at the rear base of the dorsal fin.
  • Side view of breeding male: Notice the slightly elongate solid dark opercular flap and the diffuse pigment blotch at the back of the dorsal fin.
  • The mouth is small; the head shows a solid dark opercular flap.
  • Close-up pectoral fin: Notice the long pointed shape of the fin.
  • There are 13-16 moderately long primary gill rakers on the 1st arch.
  • Breeders are similar to non-breeders but more intense in colors, especially the belly can be more yellow or orange.
  • Breeders are similar to non-breeders but more intense in colors, especially the belly can be more yellow or orange.
  • Breeders are similar to non-breeders but more intense in colors, especially the belly can be more yellow or orange.
  • Juveniles are similar to adults but often less darkly pigmented.
  • Juveniles are similar to adults but often less darkly pigmented.
  • Juveniles are similar to adults but often less darkly pigmented and slightly more elongated.
  • Juveniles are similar to adults but often less darkly pigmented and slightly more elongated.
  • Alternative side view.
  • Alternative side view.
  • Alternative side view.
  • Alternative view of dorsal fin.
  • Alternative view of dorsal fin.
  • Alternative side view.
  • Alternative side view.
  • Hybrid of green sunfish X bluegill: Notice intermediate appearance of color pattern, mouth, and pectoral fin; opercular flap is bluegill-like.
  • Hybrid of green sunfish X bluegill: Notice intermediate appearance of gill rakers.
  • Hybrid of pumpkinseed X bluegill: Notice intermediate appearance of color pattern and opercular flap.
  • Hybrid of pumpkinseed X bluegill: Notice intermediate appearance of color pattern and opercular flap.
  • Hybrid of pumpkinseed X bluegill: Notice intermediate size and length of gill rakers.
  • Hybrid of pumpkinseed X bluegill: Notice intermediate appearance of color pattern and opercular flap.
  • Hybrid of green sunfish X bluegill: Notice intermediate appearance of color pattern, mouth, and pectoral fin; opercular flap is bluegill-like.
  • Hybrid of green sunfish X bluegill: Notice intermediate appearance of color pattern, mouth, and pectoral fin; opercular flap is bluegill-like.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Sunfishes (Centrarchidae)
Body
Mouth and snout: Mouth terminal, relatively small and oblique, with pads of small teeth on the jaws. No barbels. Body patterning, color, and scales: Black olive brown, sides dark or silver-blue or bluish-olive, belly cream or yellow-orange. Sides usually solid color, often overlain with faint diffuse vertical bars. Opercular flap solid dark blue. Dorsal, caudal, and to a lesser extent anal fins usually a darkly pigmented solid color; the soft dorsal often has a large diffuse blotch at its base. The pelvic and pectoral fins are lightly pigmented to dusky. 39-45 ctenoid lateral scales. Body shape and size: Body laterally compressed and deep; oval in cross section. Typically 150-225 mm (5-9 in) TL; maximum in Wisconsin about 300 mm (12 in).
Fins
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Slightly forked or round tail. Dorsal fin with 2 lobes, broadly joined by a membrane and appearing as one fin, the first with about 10 spines and the second with 10-12 rays. Pelvic fins thoracic. Adipose fin absent. Anal fin with 3 spines and 10-12 rays.
Distinguishing Characteristics
See similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Similar to non-breeders, but with more intense colors (esp. dark blue body, orange belly, dark opercular flap).
Juveniles
Similar to adults, but spots and colors less intense, more silvery, usually without vertical bars.
Hybrids
All Lepomis species in Wisconsin have the potential to hybridize with each other, and certain combinations are relatively common.
Compare Similar Species
Lateral Scales
Bass, Rock39-43
Bluegill39-45
Pumpkinseed38-43
Sunfish, Green44-51
Sunfish, Longear34-38
Sunfish, Orangespotted36-41
Warmouth36-40
Opercular Flap Color
Bass, RockSolid dark
BluegillSolid dark
PumpkinseedDark with light spot at tip
Sunfish, GreenDark with light margin
Sunfish, LongearDark with light margin
Sunfish, OrangespottedDark with light margin
WarmouthDark with light margin
Gill Rakers
Bass, Rock7-10, long and thin
Bluegill13-16, moderately long
Pumpkinseed9-12, short and thick
Sunfish, Green11-14, long and thin
Sunfish, Longear9-11, short and thick
Sunfish, Orangespotted10-15, long and thin
Warmouth9-12, moderately long
Pectoral Fin
Bass, RockShort, rounded
BluegillLong, pointed
PumpkinseedLong, pointed
Sunfish, GreenModerately long, rounded
Sunfish, LongearShort, rounded or blunt point
Sunfish, OrangespottedLong, rounded or blunt point
WarmouthModerately long, rounded
Pigment Pattern on Sides and Soft Dorsal Fin
Bass, RockSides brown solid color or with dark mottling or many indistinct spots; fin mottled and/or spotted
BluegillSides dark or silver blue or bluish-olive, solid color or with dark vertical bars, sometimes fine irregular dark blue spots; fin solid, often with large diffuse spot at base
PumpkinseedSides olive or yellow-olive, with many irregular yellow-orange spots or blotches and sometimes faint vertical bars; fin solid or faint spots/mottling
Sunfish, GreenSides yellow or blue-green, with solid color, dark mottling, faint light spots or faint dark bars; fin dusky, spotted or with dark blotch at base
Sunfish, LongearSides dark bluish-olive, with solid color or light irregular spots or blotches/mottling; fin solid or faint spots/mottling
Sunfish, OrangespottedSides blue or gray, with occasional irregular orange spots, faint diffuse vertical bars; fin solid or faint spots/mottling
WarmouthSides yellow-brown or olive with dark mottling, faint spots or faint bars; fin mottled and/or spotted
Other Characteristics
Bass, Rock5-7 anal spines; 9-11 anal rays
BluegillOpercular flap slightly elongated in large adults
PumpkinseedNone
Sunfish, GreenRarely a few teeth on tongue
Sunfish, LongearOpercular flap greatly elongated in adults
Sunfish, OrangespottedOpercular flap often elongated in adults; large sensory pores above lip; 8-9 anal fin rays
WarmouthWell-developed supramaxillary bone; teeth on tongue
Similarity Index
Bass, RockModerately similar
BluegillN/A
PumpkinseedSmall juveniles very similar, adults moderately similar
Sunfish, GreenSmall juveniles very similar, adults moderately similar
Sunfish, LongearSmall juveniles very similar, adults moderately similar
Sunfish, OrangespottedSmall juveniles very similar, adults moderately similar
WarmouthSmall juveniles very similar, adults moderately similar
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