Managing ponds and lakes for aquaculture and fisheries in Missouri : Establishing hybrid sunfish in ponds for recreation
Sunfish -- bluegill, redear and longear sunfish -- are among the most popular species of fish for angling in Missouri (Figure 1). They are relatively easy to catch on a variety of lures and baits and provide a challenge for anglers of all ages, making hybrid sunfish a popular choice for stocking in ponds to improve angling opportunities. Several popular hybrid sunfish crosses are used to stock ponds, including bluegill and green sunfish, bluegill and redear sunfish, and green sunfish and redear sunfish. The most commonly stocked hybrid is a male bluegill crossed with a female green sunfish (Figure 2). These hybrids are exceptionally hardy fish. Bluegill and green sunfish usually inhabit, feed and spawn in shallow areas of the pond. Bluegill and green sunfish are multiple spawners and will frequent nests arranged as colonies over the warm summer months. Redear sunfish, on the other hand, only spawn once a year and normally do so at a cooler temperature than bluegill or green sunfish. Bluegill-green sunfish hybrids and bluegill-redear hybrids are good combinations because they prefer different areas of the pond and have different feeding habits. Some pond owners like these combinations because they offer diverse fishing. Being a mix of two species, hybrid sunfish have attributes of both parents. Such attributes include fast growth, reduced reproduction, ability to eat floating fish feed and an aggressive feeding behavior, which makes them easy to catch. Although hybrid sunfish are not sterile, breeding is greatly reduced because 85 to 95 percent are male. Hybrid sunfish cannot replace bluegill in a pond stocked with bass and bluegill because they do not produce enough offspring to provide enough food for largemouth bass.
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