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Elassoma evergladei
Everglades Pygmy Sunfish

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Everglades Pygmy Sunfish - Elassoma evergladei

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Elassoma_evergladei_1.jpg (15kb)
Photo Credit: Joseph S.

Name: Elassoma evergladei
Origin: Southeast USA

Size Tank pH Temp
3 cm 40 L 7.3 20C


The Everglades pygmy sunfish (Elassoma evergladei) is an interesting species for a small single species tank. It is the best known species in the aquarium hobby of a genus containing six species, all which live in the Southeastern United States. They seldom get over 3 cm. This and their need for small live foods makes them a poor choice for community aquariums, as it will be hard providing food, and they may be eaten or harassed by other fish. However, in a small tank with a constant supply of blackworms, daphnia, and/or brine shrimp nauplii, they do quite well and are very intriguing fish. They are shy, but after some time can be observed providing one makes sure to be still without sudden movement. They spend most of the time near the bottom, or otherwise in the plants manuevering at odd angles. The females, juveniles, and nonbreeding males are a unnoticeable yellowish color with light brown mottling...they can easily be mistaken for dead leaves or sticks as they sit motionless. This is perfect for blending in on the bottom and they are easily overlooked. Breeding males, on the other hand, darken down to a deep black with dusky fins. They also develop blue green to blue irridescent scales scattered on the side and a irridescent spot under the eye. The scales may be arranged to form stripes though this usually more evident in the close relative Elassoma okefenokee (the Okefenokee pygmy sunfish). When they are in breeding colors the males are quite active and patrol back and forth flashing their fins and guarding their territories. It is best in small tanks to have only one male as the others may be harassed to the point of sickness and death. A tank to move females too may also prove beneficial.

Kept in a well planted tank (as in-stuffed to the brim-they love thick cover and make little use of open spaces) with Java moss, other low light plants, and a healthy group with both genders you are almost certain to sooner or later get eggs. The male courts the female with a very elaborate dance which includes flaring, a zig zag wiggling dance while making a walking movement with the pelvic fins. The male tries to encourage the female to come into the dense plants to spawn. Keep a colony well and sooner or later fry will start to appear. At first they can only take very tiny microrganisms (I added greenwater)and baby brine shrimp. The fry so far seem remarkably hardy considering their size and are for the most part ignored by the adults. Keep the adults well fed just in case. If you want to be sure no predation happens you could either siphon out the fry or move the adults to a seperate tank. The fry grow rather slowly, but they grow. Afterall, they don't have much size to gain. Overall a great fish if you can give them the special care they need. The fry begin sexing out at around 4 months of age and are ready to breed themselves at around six months.

Contributed by Joseph S.

I caught some of these in a ditch and kept 3 in a 40 L tank. I fed them live gammarus, small backswimmers, and tiny crawfish. Keep the tank full of plants and hiding places. They get very pretty colors in breeding condition and are very nice to have.

Contributed by Ryuuzaki

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