Green Sunfish

Green sunfish male, side view photo with black background
Scientific Name
Lepomis cyanellus
Centrarchidae (sunfishes) in the order Perciformes (perchlike fishes)

The green sunfish is thick-bodied, with a large mouth, the upper jaw extending to about the middle of the eye. Back and sides are bluish green, grading to pale yellow or white on the belly. Black vertical bars are sometimes evident on the sides. Blue mottlings and streaks are present on the side of the head. Pelvic fins in breeding males are white or pink, and the tail and anal and dorsal fins are tipped with white or salmon-pink. Usually has a dark splotch on back of dorsal fin. Long, dark ear flap. Rounded pectoral fin.

Other Common Names
Black Perch

Total length: 6 to 8 inches; maximum about 10 inches and 1 pound.

Where To Find
image of Green Sunfish Distribution Map


Green sunfish can be found in any pond, lake, or stream that is capable of supporting fish life. They are often found in pools and backwaters of streams that become isolated and stagnant during the summer or drought. They are most active throughout daylight hours. They are most closely related to bluegill, redear, and other sunfishes.

Carnivorous, feeding on insects, crayfish, and small fish.

A nongame fish.

Life Cycle

Green sunfish begin spawning in mid to late May, when water temperatures rise over 70 F. Spawning activity peaks in June, and it can continue into August. Individuals can live for 6 years.

This panfish is available to anglers statewide. Provides fishing opportunities in small, intermittent creeks, where other hook-and-line fish cannot live. Still-fishing with a cane pole and bobber, using worms, grubs, or grasshoppers as bait, is about as effective as any method for catching them.

Green sunfish may be the largest fish in some of the small streams where it occurs, making it a top predator in the aquatic ecosystem. As with all fish, however, they start out small, and many sunfish eggs and juveniles are eaten by a variety of predators. Herons, watersnakes, and other vertebrates also feed on sunfish.

Media Gallery
Similar Species

Where to See Species

This Area is owned and maintained by: City of Memphis. The land surrounding the lake and all non-fishing related activities are managed by the City of Memphis.
Route 66 is a Missouri State Park administered by the Dept of Natural Resources. Through a cooperative agreement, MDC partnered to provide a boat ramp at this location.
MO DNR owns and maintains all facilities and grounds on this area. For more information or to report problems, please contact park staff at 636-586-2995.
About Fishes in Missouri
Missouri has more than 200 kinds of fish, more than are found in most neighboring states. Fishes live in water, breathe with gills, and have fins instead of legs. Most are covered with scales. Most fish in Missouri “look” like fish and could never be confused with anything else. True, lampreys and eels have snakelike bodies — but they also have fins and smooth, slimy skin, which snakes do not.