Oneida Lake Education Initiative

"Your gateway to understanding Oneida Lake"

Green Sunfish

click for full size


  • Oneida Lake individuals may be as long as 9 inches, as heavy as 0.5 pounds, and be more than 5 years old
  • Eat small fish, mollusks, and invertebrates
  • Populations have been rapidly increasing here in Oneida Lake


Green sunfish are not as deep bodied as other sunfish, and tend to have a more drab color scheme.  They have a bluish-green back that fades to a yellow or white belly, and they have a greenish-yellow shine. The green sunfish has a black earflap with a yellow edge, and typically has a black spot near the end of its dorsal fin.  This sunfish is characterized by a top jaw that extends back to the middle of the eye, and mouth that is far larger than that of other sunfish.  Green sunfish tend to be much smaller than pumkinseeds or bluegills, though hybridization with those species produces larger fish and makes identification difficult.


Green sunfish are found in many lakes and streams throughout the state. They do not appear to favor any particular bottom type, but prefer to live near brush, vegetation, or rocks.  Unlike other sunfish, the green sunfish tolerates habitats with high turbidity and low dissolved oxygen. Green sunfish eat small fish, aquatic insects, and other invertebrates. With their larger mouths, green sunfish can eat larger food than other equally sized sunfish, thus reducing competition between the species.


Green sunfish spawning occurs between mid-May and early August. Like other sunfish, green sunfish males build nests in colonies, and prefer areas that are sheltered by rocks or logs. Females lay between 2,000 and 26,000 eggs, and the male then guards the nest for the 3-5 days it takes for the eggs to hatch.


Green sunfish are aggressive and tend to be more competitive than other sunfish, especially bluegills. This behavior makes the green sunfish an easy and fun fish to catch.


To learn more about Green Sunfish ...

Green Sunfish Factsheet (pdf - 437kb)

Oneida Lake Education Initiative Fish Homepage