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Pumpkinseed

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The pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) is a freshwater fish of the sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of order Perciformes. It is native to northeastern North America, from New Brunswick to South Carolina but it has been introduced elsewhere in North America as well as throughout much of Europe where it is considered an invasive species.

Pumpkinseeds prefer shallow water with some weed cover. They are often typical of ponds and small lakes, preferring water temperatures of 4–22 °C (39–72 °F). They are active during the day and rest near the bottom at night.

These fish reproduce rapidly and are low on the food chain. They eat a variety of insects, including mosquito larvae, along with small molluscs and crustaceans. They also feed on smaller fish, including smaller pumpkinseeds. In the shallow areas of which they are typical, the fish exploit the entire water column from the bottom to surface. In turn, they provide food for birds and mammals (including humans).

Sexual maturity occurs at age two. Males prepare nests in colonies on gravel bottoms in late spring. The males are territorial and chase even early-arriving females away. When a female reaches a nest, she is joined by the male, and eggs are deposited in a cloud of milt. The eggs settle and stick to the pebbles. The female departs as soon as the eggs have been deposited. Males may welcome several females over several days. The male guards the nest as the eggs hatch in a few days. The males continue to guard the offspring, herding them into a ball-like cloud. After a week or two, the young gain sufficient energy and maintaining the order of the cloud becomes impossible at which point the offspring disperse and the male departs the nest. Pumpkinseeds are known to interbreed with the closely-related bluegill, which they resemble in form and coloration.

The pumpkinseed, like other sunfishes, is very popular with anglers. The fish is often the first one caught by young anglers. The fish is considered to be a fine food fish although it is less prized than the bluegill. Pumpkinseeds feed all day and can be caught with live bait or with small lures. They actively fight the line as they are reeled in. This species is regarded as a panfish due to its size and edibility.

L. gibbosus is known by many other common names, including punky, pond perch, sun bass, crapet-soleil (in Québec), kivver or kivvie(New England), yellow sunfish, and simply sunfish (or “sunny”). The specific epithet, gibbosus, derives from the Latin gibb(er)osus (hunch backed).