Redear Sunfish Vs Bluegill: The Amazing Differences!

Last Updated on October 21, 2022 by Griselda M.

Redear Sunfish Vs Bluegill, these two are from the same family but there are some key differences that you want to know before making your selection. This guide will provide you with all you need to know in understanding the difference between redear sunfish vs. bluegill. 

Since these two fish are very similar, you need to pay close attention to determine which one is which.  As an aquaponics expert, it is crucial to learn about specific fish types and all of their needs.  Having this information will greatly increase your growing success. 

Read on to learn all you need to know!

Sunfish Family

First off let’s learn about the family that both of these fish belong to.  The scientific name of this family is Centrarchidae.  In general, the fish in this family have flat and round bodies, similar to a pancake shape.  

Another thing these family members have in common is that they build their nests. These nests are bowl-shaped and can be found on the shoreline of streams and ponds late in spring.  The last thing is that Sunfish are meat-eaters only!

This means you will have to pay special attention to their diet as they cannot find their food passively from plants.

Redear Sunfish Characteristics

As the name states, Redear Sunfish can most easily be determined by a beautiful red stripe located on the “ear” of the fish. You can see this in the picture below:

Redear Sunfish Characteristics

Be sure to note that female Redears have a more red color while males are a more orange color.  The actual color depends on the age of the fish and their living conditions.  

Fully grown fish usually weigh around one pound (about 0.5 kg) and are about eight to ten inches in length (20-25cm).  As you can see, they are not that big.  This means you can fit more of them in your tank.  

The dorsal fin has between nine to eleven spines and the anal fin has three spines.

These species are native to freshwaters of some areas of the U.S.A and like to live in fresh, warm, calm waters such as streams, ponds, or lakes.  

One of the most unique things about red ears is their ability to crush bottom feeders like mussels and snails.  This has earned them their nickname, “shellcracker!”  These fish have a special set of teeth in their throat to do this work.  

The Redear Cycle starts from a small baby where they begin to reproduce once they are around three to five inches long.  

 According to the Noble Research Institute, Red Ears require a  warm water temperature between 65 degrees F- 80F.  Once the conditions are optimal, they will lay their eggs in a water depth of 1 foot to 5 feet.  

The males will prepare the nest out of small rocks or sand before finding a female.  Once they find a female they both will return to the nest and lay eggs there. 

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fish & Shellfish of the World

Bluegill Sunfish Characteristics

As you could guess from the name, Bluegill Sunfish colors will be very different in comparison to the RedEar Fish.  Bluegills have blue and purple on their face and orange on their belly.  Also very important to note is that there is a black spot on their ear.  

Bluegills eat insects and larvae that are near the surface of ponds and lakes.  Surprisingly, they will also eat a small number of aquatic plants.  

On average, they weigh up to four and a half pounds and are around twelve inches long.  They are a tasty food source for many fish higher up on the food chain.  This makes Bluegills a valuable part of a thriving ecosystem.  

These fish have dorsal, anal, and caudal (lower belly) fins that help them swim very fast and change speeds quickly.  

Bluegills also reproduce very fast! 

Bluegill Sunfish Characteristics

Learn more about: How Many Fish Can You Put In A 5 Gallon Tank

Comparing Redear Sunfish Vs Bluegill

As mentioned, there are similarities and differences between the two species. 

First off, both types of fish like to live in warm bodies of freshwater and they both like to hide around dense areas of vegetation such as fallen logs.  Also, both species do not have teeth on their tongue.  They both have three fins that help them swim.  

Now, let’s overview the main differences. 

The easiest way to tell the two apart is by looking at their physical characteristics.  Redear fish have red marks on the top of their gills, while the bluegills have a black or dark blue spot. 

The bluegill also has dark shades of blue on the sides of its head.  The redear abdomen is green/ gold and the bluegills are yellow or orange-ish.  

As mentioned before, Redears have a special set of teeth in the back of the throat whereas Bluegills do not have any.  These teeth are purely for digestion. This difference impacts what type of food they can each eat. 

 Bluegills are limited to getting their food from insects and fish that live near the top of the water.  They cannot break the shells of bottom feeders as the Redear can.

Redears have a wider variety of food selections and prefer to get things that dwell near the bottom of the water like crayfish and snails.  

Redears also move slower than bluegills and can be found in more stagnant waters.  

On average, Bluegills produce more offspring than Redears, with an average of around 40,000 eggs per season! While Redears’ egg amount can range from 9,000-80,000.  

Making Your Choice

Deciding between stocking your tank with Redear vs. Bluegill is a personal preference.  The main difference that you have to pay attention to is their diet.  Be sure to consider which foods are more readily available in your area.  

Make sure to have a long-term plan.  They are both large reproducers so you will want to have a place to keep fish as more are bred. 

You can also make your decision based on which color you like.  

Either way, they both make a good choice for your aquaponics system because they are relatively easy to raise!

Please comment and ask questions below! 

Read more about: Where To Buy Fish For Aquaponics

Leave a Comment