Mud Sunfish Fact Sheet
New York Status: Threatened
The mud sunfish is a small fish that rarely exceeds 6.5 inches in length. It has smooth scales, a round caudal (tail) fin and brown eyes. The body color is reddish brown on top and pale brown on the belly. There are five distinct lines located along the fish's sides.
Little biological information is available for the mud sunfish. It is known that populations are spatially separated and of low density. Mud sunfish spawn in the spring and males prepare nests.
Food studies show that the sunfish feeds primarily on insects and crusteaceans. A small population found in a Maryland pond was aged to evaluate life expectancy; the fish ranged from two to eight years old.
Distribution and Habitat
The mud sunfish occurs in lowland streams and bogs from southern New York to northern Florida. It favors acid waters associated with cedar swamps and pine barrens areas, and it is also found in standing water with a heavy growth of aquatic plants. These waters have silty or muddy bottoms. In New York, it has only been found in the Hackensack River, and not collected since 1935.
No studies have been reported. Mud sunfish do not appear to be common anywhere.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will conduct studies to determine the distribution of the mud sunfish in the Hackensack River. DEC will examine management options for securing existing populations.