New York Natural Heritage Program
Banded Sunfish
Enneacanthus obesus (Girard, 1854)
Ray-finned Fishes

Identifying Characteristics [-]
Banded sunfish are small, reaching a maximum of three to five cm in length in New York (Smith 1985). The body is laterally compressed and deep. The coloration of the body can vary, but is typically greenish beige with iridescent flecks. Six to seven dark bands run vertically along the body. The pectoral and tail fins are round. The anal fin has three spines. The gill cover has a dark spot edged in white that is bigger than the pupil. There is a teardrop-shape line below the eye (Finley 1983; Smith 1985; Carlson 1998).

Characters Most Useful for Identification [-]
The dark vertical bands and round tail are the most useful characteristics in identifying banded sunfish.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]
The adult stage is the the best stage to properly identify a banded sunfish.

Behavior [-]
Little is known about the behavior of the banded sunfish. Females can begin spawning after one year.In the spring, the males construct nests made of sand and gravel in aquatic vegetation in which the female will lay her eggs (Smith 1985; Carlson 1998).

Diet [-]
The diet of the banded sunfish has been poorly studied, but assumptions have been made as to a diet consisting of small aquatic insects and invertebrates (Smith 1985).
Banded Sunfish Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
The fish are present throughout the year. Spawning typically runs from April to July.
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Active Reproducing
The time of year you would expect to find Banded Sunfish active (blue shading) and reproducing (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Bluespotted Sunfish (Enneacanthus gloriosus)
    Both of these fish have a rounded tail and three anal spines but they differ in color as adults. Juenile bluespotted sunfish resemble banded sunfish but the former loose their vertical bands as they age. The spot on the gill cover of the bluespotted is smaller than that on the banded sunfish (Smith 1985).