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Banded Sunfish

Banded Sunfish
Enneacanthus obesus

New York Status: Threatened


Banded Sunfish (size 3kb)

Averaging two inches in length, the banded sunfish is the smallest species of sunfish in New York State. Along with the bluespotted sunfish, it is the only other sunfish species that has three spines in the anal (bottom rear) fin and a rounded, rather than forked, tail. The banded sunfish is distinguished from the bluespotted sunfish by the six or seven dark vertical (not light horizontal) stripes on its body. In addition, the banded sunfish has rounded pectoral (front side) fins, a gill cover spot that is larger than its pupil, and an arched lateral line that ends short of the tail. A colorful fish, its body is olive-colored sprinkled with iridescent gold, green and purple.

Life History

Little is known about the life history of the banded sunfish. It is assumed that this fish has similar habits to other sunfishes, with males building and guarding small nests in aquatic vegetation and adults feeding on aquatic insects, as well as other small invertebrates.

Distribution and Habitat

The banded sunfish occurs in slow water areas along the Atlantic Coast. It occurs from northwestern to eastern areas of Florida, and then north along the coast to southern New Hampshire. In New York State, it has only been found in the Passaic drainage and in eastern Long Island in the Peconic drainage. It prefers heavily vegetated areas of lakes, bogs, and streams.

Population Status

Because the only New York populations of the banded sunfish are located in nine interconnected waters of eastern Long Island, it is considered to be vulnerable to environmental catastrophes. Therefore, it is listed as threatened.

Management/Research Needs

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will continue to monitor the status of existing populations of the banded sunfish.

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