Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Lepomis gibbosus

The pumpkinseed sunfish, also known as the pond perch and sun perch, is one of the more colorful freshwater fish found natively in the waters of the eastern United States.

Range & Habitat

In the Wild: This fish is widespread throughout the United states. It can be found from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi river basin. This species prefers shallow, warm water with lots of vegetation in which to hide.

At the Zoo: Animal Adaptations, Otter exhibit

Conservation Status: Least Concern


In the Wild: Insects, mosquito larvae, small mollusks, snails, other crustaceans, minnow fry, worms

At the Zoo: smelt, worms and specialized fish gel

Life Span

In the Wild – 8 - 9 years
In Human Care - up to 12 years.

Fun Facts about the Pumpkinseed Sunfish

  • Pumpkinseed sunfish are active during the day and rest in protected areas among rocks or near submerged logs at night.
  • Their body shape resembles a pumpkin seed, hence their name.
  • Pumpkinseed sunfish have speckles on their olive-colored sides and back, with a yellow to orange belly and breast.
  • Females produce 1,500 to 3,000 eggs, depending on their size and age. The male aggressively guards the eggs, which hatch in 3 to 5 days, and continues to guard the fry (hatchlings) for up to 11 more days.


Retrieved from the San Diego Zoo:

Retrieved from Kids’ Inquiry of Diverse Species: 

Retrieved from the IUCN Red List:

Updated January 22, 2021