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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Green Sunfish - Lepomis cyanellus

Non-native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNA

Agency Status


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General Description
The green sunfish is another marginal introduction found scattered in the lower Yellowstone and Little Missouri river drainages of southeastern Montana. They are hardy little fish, tolerating a wide range of temperature, turbidity, and oxygen levels in slow-moving streams, ponds, or lakes. Green sunfish in Montana seldom exceed 5 inches in length although they are readily caught on a variety of baits. The food of this species, as with the other sunfishes, is primarily insects, crustaceans, and small fishes.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Body robust. Gill rakers long and slender. Breeding males have light-colored fringe on dorsal, anal, and tail fins.

Species Range
Montana Range


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 712

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Slow-moving streams at lower elevations and shallows of lakes. Tolerates turbid water, high temperatures and low dissolved oxygen.

Food Habits
Aquatic insects, small crustaceans and fishes, and small amounts of plant material.

Well suited to radically changing conditions found in prairie streams.

Reproductive Characteristics
Sexually mature at end of 2nd growing season. Spawns May - midsummer in shallow areas with clean bottom at 60 degrees F.

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Citation for data on this website:
Green Sunfish — Lepomis cyanellus.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from