Iowa DNR
River & Stream Biological Monitoring
Fish and Benthic Macroinvertebrate Surveys
Physical Habitat Assessments

Green Sunfish Lepomis cyanellus

Centrarchidae (Sunfish)
Trophic Class
Is Exotic to Iowa?
Is Lithophilous Spawner?
Is Hybrid?
State Listing Status
Not Listed
Assessment Program Statistics

This species was found at 641 bioassessment sites, 72 rapid fish bioassessment sites, 112 fisheries assessment sites, and 15 fisheries presence-only assessment sites. In total, it was collected at 792 distinct sites, or 54.9% of the 1442 total sites monitored by the bioassessment program. It is the 6th most commonly collected species.

The Green Sunfish was collected in 1334 bioassessment sampling sessions and 297 fisheries assessment sessions. It was present in 72 rapid bioassessment sessions and 17 presence-only sessions.

The biological assessment program has collected a total of 39,892 individual Green Sunfish specimens, ranking it the #13 most collected fish.

Species Characteristics

A thick-bodied sunfish with a large mouth for sunfishes; the upper jaw extends to about the middle of the eye when the mouth is closed. The spiny dorsal fin has 10 spines and is broadly connected to the soft dorsal fin. The pectoral fins are short and rounded, and the ear flap is never elongated. The back and sides are bluish-green with emerald and yellow reflections, while the belly is white or light yellow. Sometimes there are several black vertical bars on the sides. The sides of the head are mottled with emerald and yellow streaks, and the black ear flap has a whitish or yellowish margin. Green Sunfish usually have whitish or yellow-orange leading edges on their dorsal, anal and caudal fins.

Species Distribution Maps

HUC12 watersheds where this species has been found