up to 9.5 inches
insects and crustaceans
Also known as river bream or redbellies, redbreast sunfishes are in the Centrarchidae family – the sunfishes.
Distinguishing features: The primary distinguishing feature of a redbreast sunfish is a long, narrow black ear flap. You may also see wavy blue lines on the cheek and gill cover. It is the breeding males that have reddish-orange breasts, so not all individuals will display the characteristic that gives this species its common name.
Redbreasts are common in rivers and springs of south-central to north Florida, but absent from south Florida.
Getting to know your sunfish in Florida springs:
While there are other sunfish species that can be found in Florida’s springs, the four that are the most common and the best for a beginning fish-watcher to start with are Bluegill, Spotted Sunfish, Redear Sunfish, and Redbreast Sunfish.
Bluegill: look for that spot at the rear base of the dorsal fin
Spotted sunfish: look for the iridescent blue under the eyes.
Redbreast sunfish: look for the long ear flap.
Redear sunfish: look for the red spot on the ear. That spot is not always visible so if your sunfish lacks any of the characteristics of the other three species, it might be a redear!