Aquarium fish: Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)
Size: 15 – 30 cm
Origin: North America
Water temperature: 4 – 22 ° C
Aquarium volume: 280 l

Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus ) – interestingly colored, unusual fish from the bass family, sometimes kept in aquariums, in behavior resembling cichlids, also occurs in Poland.


North America. It occurs naturally in the northeastern part of the continent, from New Brunswick in Canada to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. Artificially introduced to the rest of North America and Europe, where it is considered an invasive species. It lives in shallow cool and moderately warm waters.

Most often found in small lakes and ponds, overgrown bays of larger lakes, and calm parts of slowly flowing waters. Prefers places sheltered by vegetation and avoids open spaces.

Characteristics and disposition

It can grow up to 40 cm in lengthoverall, but usually it is approx. 18-23 cm. The body is tall, short, laterally flattened, the height of which is about 50% of its length.

Mouth small with numerous, fine, brush-like teeth. Dorsal fin composed of 10-11 hard spines and 10-12 rays. Pectoral fins pointed and long, caudal fin with three spikes, slightly indented. The unique color scheme distinguishes this species from other basslines. The thoracic and lower abdomen are orange or red-orange in color, the back and head are brown to olive green, the sides are golden with 7 or 8 vertical iridescent orange, yellow and green-blue stripes.

Orange gill covers with radiating bluish streaks. There is a black stain on the back of the covers, edged with white and orange. On the dorsal fins, The fish reach sexual maturity, measuring approximately 5.5-6 cm in length. Females are paler and the stripes on their body more distinct. Young olive green individuals.

Males during the spawning period are more intensely colored, their belly is bright orange, and in females it is yellow. Brightly colored gill covers act as a deterrent, widening them to make them appear larger when they feel threatened. Interestingly, they have a strong localization instinct , and when caught, tagged and then released elsewhere in the lake, they mostly returned to their original area. Pugnacious and very durable, they resemble cichlids in their behavior. In the group, they define the hierarchy.

Males like to duel with each other. In the natural environment, young up to approx. 14 mm form sizeable shoals, adults are usually seen in pairs or loose groups of 3 or 4 individuals. It is recommended to keep a harem, one male and several females in the aquarium. They most often swim in the middle and lower parts of the water, and rest at the bottom.

Nutrition and feeding

Omnivorous, however, most of their diets are animal foods such as small invertebrates, insects, mosquito larvae, small molluscs and crustaceans. They eat plant foods less often. In Washington, a study of fish caught from three shallow lakes showed that only 1% of their digestive systems were plant matter. Adult bassoons have enough jaw muscles to crush the shells of snails. In the aquarium, they can be given good-quality dry food in flakes and granules as well as live or frozen, e.g.

daphnia, artemia, bloodworm, waterworm, chopped earthworm or fish meat.


The minimum aquarium for a group of 6 young Bassies should not be less than 150 liters, but 240 liters are recommended. When kept from a small age in a large space, they will be less belligerent when fully mature. However, it should be remembered that during breeding, especially males, they are very territorial. Apart from swimming space, they also require hiding places and shaded places.

For decoration, you can use pieces of dry wood, roots, branches and stones. The plants you plant should be strong and hardy. Floating vegetation is also recommended, as it will slightly suppress the amount of light entering the tank. Sand or fine gravel will be suitable for the bottom. Adult Bassies resemble cichlids in their behavior, so you should not pay too much attention to the arrangement, as the fish will arrange the aquarium in their own way.

When it comes to water parameters, they are not picky. The water should first of all be clean and without sudden fluctuations in parameters . They adapt to water between 6.7 and 8.2 pH. The optimal water temperature for them is 16-22 ° C. They periodically tolerate temperatures above 26 ° C and even below 10 ° C.

They require efficient filtration and regular water changes. They also like slightly saline water. From time to time, you can add a flat tablespoon of non-iodized salt to 20-25 liters of water. This will make them feel better and protect them from certain diseases. It is best to keep them in a species aquarium , but in a sufficiently large tank they can be kept with other fish with similar environmental requirements, e.g.

crucian carp, tench, perch.


In nature, spawning mostly takes place between late spring and early summer, when the water temperature is 15-25 ° C. Before spawning, males build small, round nests in the sand or the ground, in water not deeper than 1 m. Up to 15 such nests may appear in a colony. Males use their caudal fins for this.

The nest may be 10-38 cm in diameter and is usually formed in a surrounding vegetation. Females wait in deeper water until they are finished, then swim towards them, and males try to encourage them to spawn. The female can lay 1,500 to even 7,000 eggs. The male may approach spawning several times with the same or a different partner. The female may rub in more than one nest, and sometimes several females rub at the same time in the same nest.

One nest can hold up to 15,000 eggs. Hatching lasts from 3 to 5 days depending on the temperature. The offspring is looked after by the male, defends the territory against predators, and by fanning the nest with fins, it cleans it and provides the supply of fresh oxygenated water. After about 10-11 days, the fry leave the nest and move away to shallower water. The male clears the nest in preparation for the next spawning.

For breeding in an aquarium, it is best to buy a group of young unrelated fish, from which a pair will be matched. In autumn, the fish are best placed in a room where the temperature is between 10-12 ° C. Wintering will last 3-4 months. During this period, we limit the feeding of the fish to a minimum. In the spring, we gradually raise the water temperature in the aquarium to approx.

19-22 ° C. The dominant male will emerge from the group, and together with the thickest female, we will move it to the breeding aquarium (approx. 150-200 liters), arranged as described above. We feed the fish abundantly with frozen and live foods. During spawning, the fish swim vigorously over the nest, the male tries to stick sideways to the female, so that their reproductive organs are closest to each other.

From time to time, the female stops in the nest and lays portions of yellowish eggs, which the male immediately fertilizes. In the first days, the fry should be fed with the smallest food, e.g. eyelet larvae or protozoa. After approx. 5-7 days, you can start feeding artemia larvae, eyelids, and after 10 days, micro nematodes.

Food should be given frequently, but only in small amounts.


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