Those odd-looking Redbreast Sunfish

OK. I’ve been looking at a lot of sunfish stuff, and has anyone else found it sort of odd that some Redbreast Sunfish look quite different from others? Is this something with juveniles and adults? Maybe I sound naive on the topic, but it’s almost as if they would be subspecies, or there’s some hybridization event occurring. I believe this should be talked about more if it hasn’t been already and I haven’t seen it.

Here are some more extreme examples out of some newer sightings that I’ll place into two categories:

#1 - The elliptically-shaped fish of focus, they are kind of like Green Sunfish with their body shape, and it seems perhaps their eye (however I cannot pinpoint how), but aren’t classed as hybrids.

#2 - The more oval and typically sunfish-like fish.

And then there are the plethora of sightings that are in-between, but even then I feel that they lean slightly into one of these two categories. Again, I find this quite odd.


Body shape can be quite variable in fish. Young sunfish start out narrow and become rounder and deeper-bodied as they get larger, and even fish of the same length can be much thinner or rounder depending on how well fed they are (or perhaps whether they’ve had a chance to fill in after growing). Google the phrase “record bluegill” and look at how round particularly large sunfish are compared to more moderate sized conspecifics, or just look at pics of sunfish that are unambiguously the same species and see how much they vary in shape in general and you should see what I mean


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