Information Last Reviewed Spring 2007
North American Distribution
Species found in United States: L. auritus, L. cyanellus, L. gibbosus, L. gulosus, L. humilis, L. macrochirus, L. marginatus, L. megalotis, L. microlophus, L. miniatus, L. punctatus, L. symmetricus
Deep, strongly compressed body
Opercle edge smooth without spinous projections
No teeth found on tongue
Lateral line scales < 55
Dorsal fin continuous with a shallow gap between spines and rays
Dorsal fin spines 9-12
Dorsal fin rays 10-12
Anal fin spines 3
Anal fin rays 9-10
Adults often brightly colored, particularly breeding males
Genus Lepomis can be distinguished from invasive cichlids by:
Cichlids have a two-part lateral line (anterior portion higher on side of body than posterior portion), a single nostril on each side, and usually 14-18 dorsal fin spines.
Generally found in vegetated lakes, ponds, swamps, and slack water areas of streams/rivers, usually over soft substrates.
L. gulosus, L. cyanellus, L. symmetricus, L. punctatus, L. macrochirus, L. microlophus, L. gibbosus, L. marginatus, L. humilis, and L. miniatus
Typically inhabit rocky or sandy pools of headwaters, creeks, and small to medium rivers, usually near vegetation.
L. megalotis and L. auritus
North American Distribution:
Common throughout the eastern and central United States, including the Mississippi River basin, Atlantic Slope drainages, and Gulf Slope drainages.
Introduced into a few locations west of the Rocky Mountains.
Widely introduced and common in most of the United States, excluding Florida, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington.
Common in western Gulf Slope drainages and the lower Mississippi River basin.
Common in Atlantic Slope drainages south into Florida.
Introduced and common throughout most of the United States
Common throughout lower Atlantic Slope and Gulf Slope drainages and the lower/central portion of the Mississippi River basin.
Introduced into several states north of the native range.
Common in eastern and western Gulf Slope drainages and lower Mississippi River basin.
Common in the northeastern United States, including Atlantic Slope drainages, Great Lakes drainage, and upper Mississippi River basin.
Introduced into parts of Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
Common throughout the east-central United States, including the Mississippi River basin and Gulf Slope drainages from Alabama to New Mexico.
Common in Atlantic Slope and Gulf Slope drainages below the Fall Line in the southeastern United States
Common in Atlantic Slope and eastern Gulf Slope drainages from Maine to central Florida. 5, 4, 3
Introduced in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kentucky.
Widely distributed throughout the central United States in the Mississippi River basin and central/western Gulf Slope drainages from Alabama to Texas.
Boschung, H.T., and R.L. Mayden. 2004. The Fishes of Alabama. The Smithsonian Institute, Washington. 736 pp.
Etnier, D.A., and W.C. Starnes. 1993. The Fishes of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. 681 pp.
Jenkins, R.E., and N.M. Burkhead. 1993. Freshwater fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland. 1080 pp.
Lee, D.S., C.R. Gilbert, C.H. Hocutt, R.E. Jenkins, D.E. McAllister, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980. Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. North Carolina Biological Survey, North Carolina. 866 pp.
Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 1991. Peterson Field Guide: A Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York. 432 pp.
Pflieger, W.L. 1997. The Fishes of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City, Missouri. 372 pp.
Trewavas, E. 1983. Tilapiine Fishes of the Genera Sarotherodon, Oreochromis and Danakilia. British Museum of Natural History, Publ. Num. 878. Comstock Publishing Associates. Ithaca, New York. 583 pp.