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Are you thinking of having fish in a domestic aquarium? The truth is that people around the world consider fish as a type of pet because of their ease of care and the fact that a large investment is not required. Sunfish are among the top fish for an aquarium as they are docile, yet strong predators. Therefore, it is important to know a little more about this aquatic creature, considering their characteristics, feeding, care, and if you want to keep them in a fish tank, the aspects to keep in mind to provide them with a good habitat.

History of Sunfish
The name of this fish is due to its constant habit of coming to the surface to sunbathe. The sunfish belongs to the family of Centrarchidae, and its scientific name is Lepomis Gibbus, but it is also known as the sunfish. It is a native species of Northwestern North America but can now be found in countries in America, Africa, and Europe. It was introduced to the Iberian Peninsula at the beginning of the 20th century. However, this species spread in the 1980s due to the large number of people who used them for aquaria as an ornamental species. The consequences were suffered by native fish after they were introduced to different areas around the world since they are strong predators of fish eggs, benthic invertebrates, and fry.

Characteristics of Sunfish
Sunfish are cold-water fish. The scientific name that describes them, Lepomis Gibbus, refers to the hump that identifies this species. Its real size in the ocean can reach up to about 40 centimeters, but in a pond or aquarium, it measures 20 centimeters or 10, which is more regular. Its body is relatively high and flat, and its hump makes it a bit taller. It has a single dorsal fin that separates the spiny rays from its front like the posterior fin. It has pointed and elongated pectoral and dorsal fins. The colors they have are colorful and striking, making it special as a cold-water fish for the aquarium. Orange and yellow colors predominate in its ventral area, while a greenish-blue color appears on its sides. On the other hand, to identify the male sunfish from the female, it is necessary to look at the size of both, as males are a little larger than females. Additionally, there is another difference: the male has two peculiar dark and red spots found on its gill covers. In females, they are lighter and bordered by an orange tone. Its natural habitat is in waters with low current, such as lakes and ponds with abundant vegetation. Additionally, they live in small streams and rivers. Another important characteristic of sunfish is the tiny size of their organs, hence the need to emphasize the structure of their mouths, which is specially designed to tear apart both hard and soft prey. This fish has another row of teeth where it passes its food to break it down even more and then passes it to its small stomach.

Feeding Sunfish
Sunfish are an invasive species, that is, predators. They are carnivorous and eat smaller fish than themselves. Their diet is very varied and consists of live food such as jellyfish, salps, frigates, Portuguese Man Of War, invertebrates, and many more. Since the mentioned food does not fill their stomachs, they eat their prey in large quantities to maintain their weight and size. They look for their food in the depths of the sea as well at the surface. If they live in an aquarium or pond, they will gladly eat dry food for cold-water fish.

Care for Sunfish
If you finally decide to have sunfish in your aquarium, it is very important to consider some aspects for their care. In this way, you can provide a habitat where they can feel comfortable. Keep in mind the following recommendations:

Aquarium Size
It is necessary to highlight that sunfish are cold-water fish. However, since they can be found in different parts of the world, they can adapt to different types of water. The size of the aquarium should be around 200 liters, an adequate size with enough space for them to swim comfortably.

Water Filter
Sunfish are tough fish. They are capable of surviving and adapting to different environments, so they can live properly in a tank without a filtration system and with low oxygenation levels. However, think about the best care a fish should receive. Keeping the aquarium well-maintained is vital to the fish's well-being. Therefore, installing a water filter will be ideal for the sunfish to have a cleaner and healthier habitat.

Appropriate Temperature
Provide the best conditions for sunfish by putting the water temperature suitable for this marine species. The appropriate ranges are between 17°C and 22°C. If the temperature drops below 12°C, it will endanger the life of these attractive fish. On the other hand, the water pH should be between 7 and 7.5, and the water's dH should be between 10° and 15°.

Accessories in the Aquarium
Although these fish are known for coming to the surface, they usually swim in the depth of the sea. They enjoy being between plants and abundant vegetation. Therefore, among the accessories of your cold-water fish aquarium is vegetation, it can be fine gravel, so it simulates their natural habitat.

Compatibility with Other Fish
Sunfish are known to have a calm and peaceful character. But they cannot coexist with smaller species than themselves as they can quickly become their prey due to their carnivorous and predatory nature. Therefore, if you want the fish to socialize with other species, it is best to look for those that are compatible, such as Koi carp. Another aspect to consider is that, during the breeding period, they tend to be aggressive and territorial. In this sense, the recommended thing is to place a male sunfish and several females.

An Aquarium without a Lid
This species is not known to be jumpy, so you can keep the aquarium without a lid. However, to avoid risks, you can place a fine mesh that allows the passage of light. Remember that this species loves to sunbathe, so you should keep the aquarium in a place with good lighting.

Breeding Sunfish
The way sunfish reproduce is that the male first makes a nest on the sand. In fact, the male can fertilize several females in the same nest. During their breeding period, it has been observed that the couple swims forming circles over the nest, releases the eggs and sperm. It is known that they can lay up to 1,000 eggs. After 7 days, the eggs hatch, and after 11 days, the male can mate again with the same female or a different one. Their breeding season is estimated to be between May and July.

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