#SundayFishSketch Gulf Coast Pygmy Sunfish

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This #SundayFishSketch comes from Ichthyologist, Rene Martin. Visit her shop on InPrint to see more of her artwork or to order prints!

Meet the Gulf Coast Pygmy Sunfish

Elassoma gilberti

Elassoma Gilberti male in breeding colors
By Okiimiru (Erica Wieser)
The Gulf Coast Pygmy Sunfish is found in the coastal river drainages of the Sunshine State, Florida, over to southern Georgia. They can be found in areas of dense vegetation in the drainage portions of rivers along the coasts of where they live off of a diet of small invertebrates such as worms, insects, and tiny crustaceans.

As you can see in the video above, these fish change color depending on a variety of factors such as who is dominant, attempting to blend in, etc. The iridescent coloration with the dark body that you see in the photo and painting are typical of males during breeding season (hubba-hubba). While on the prowl, the males establish a territory of about 1 cubic foot. If that sounds small to you, that’s because it is a matter of perspective. This Pygmy Sunfish only gets to a length of around 2.5 centimeters—that’s just under an inch! The male spends its time dancing throughout its territory to attract the attention of the ladies by wiggling their fins like glitter-gloved-jazz-hands, stop completely for a few seconds, and returning to the wiggle. The females have it easy, casually swimming through territories, spawning, and leaving the eggs under the males care until they hatch roughly 3 days later.

F. Snelson, Franklin & Krabbenhoft, Trevor & Quattro, Joseph. (2009). Elassoma gilberti, a new species of pygmy sunfish (Elassomatidae) from Florida and Georgia. Bull. Fla. Mus. Nat. Hist.. 48.


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