E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Lepomis gibbosus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Family: Centrarchidae
Photo of species

© Ian Gardiner  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #14098)

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Source: Distribution map provided by Don McPhail for E-Fauna BC
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The Pumpkinseed is a beautiful, colourful, introduced freshwater fish species in British Columbia that is native to northeastern North America where it is common. It has been widely introduced in western North America and globally (McPhail 2007). According to Carl and Guiget (1958), the exact date of introduction of this species in the Pacific northwest is unknown, but it is likely that it was introduced in BC with other fish species. It is now reported from lakes, ponds, slow streams and sloughs in south-central and south-western British Columbia (McPhail 2007). It is primarily a shallow water species usually found in warm littoral areas where it is active during the day. Sometimes, however, it is found in cooler, deeper open water.

The Pumpkinseed is a type of sunfish. The body of the Pumpkinseed is noticeably laterally compressed. In its native range, individuals reache lengths of 178-229 mm (Scott and Crossman 1973), but this species is rarely larger than 200 mm in BC (McPhail 2007). Males are usually more brightly coloured than paler females. Colour ranges from orange, green, yellow, or blue speckles, with an olive back, yellow sides and a yellow to orange belly and breast. McPhail (2007) describes breeding males as particularly colourful: "they have conspicuous wavy blue lines on the sides of the head, an orange or red spot at the tip of a black opercular flap, bronze flanks dappled with an irregular pattern of lighter wavy lines, and an orange-red belly" (McPhail 2007). Sharp spines are present in the dorsal and anal fins.

The Pumpkinseed spawns from spring to early summer, with reports of spawning as late as July and August in the native part of its range (Scott and Crossman 1973). Males excavates spawning pits in clay, sand or gravel in areas where there is aquatic vegetation (Scott and Crossman 1973, McPhail 2007). Usually more than one female will lay eggs in a single pit, where the number of eggs present may range from 600 to 14,000 eggs (McPhail 2007, Scott and Crossman 1973). Males guard nests, and also guard the fry for the first 7 to 11 days after hatching (McPhail 2007, Scott and Crossman 1973).

The Pumpkinseed is known to hybridize with other fish species, including the Bluegill, another introduced species in British Columbia (Scott and Crossman 1973).

View a video of the Pumpkinseed.

Species Information

Dorsal spines (total): 10 - 12; Dorsal soft rays (total): 10 - 12; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 8 - 11; Vertebrae: 28 - 30 Biology:

Source: FishBase. Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr 1991 A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 p.


Species Biology

Occurs in quiet and vegetated lakes, ponds, and pools of creeks and small rivers. Feeds mainly on worms, crustaceans and insects (Ref. 7020) but may also feed on small fishes and other vertebrates (Ref. 1998), as well as fish eggs (Ref. 2058).

Source: FishBase. Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr 1991 A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 p.


BC Distribution and Notes

This eastern North American fish is an attractive little pest. It competes with native species and has extirpated some scientifically valuable stickleback populations on Vancouver Island. It is still spreading on Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland. Apparently, people keep small pumpkinseeds as aquarium fish but release them when they get too big or become a nuisance. Thus, in B.C., humans almost always spread this species.

Source: Information provided by Don McPhail for E-Fauna BC.
Global Distribution

North America: New Brunswick in Canada to South Carolina in the USA. Widely introduced. Several countries report adverse ecological impact after introduction.

Source: FishBase. Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr 1991 A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 p.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
ExoticSNAExoticNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

Species References

Carl, G. Cliford and C. J. Guiguet. 1958. Alien Animals in British Columbia. British Columbia Provincial Museum, Department of Education, Handbook No. 14. Victoria. Available Online.

McPhail, J. D. 2007. The Freshwater Fishes of British Columbia. The University of Alberta Press, Edmonton.

Scott, W. B. and E. J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater Fishes of Canada. Bulletin 184. Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Ottawa.

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-04-22 9:20:12 AM]
Disclaimer: The information contained in an E-Fauna BC atlas pages is derived from expert sources as cited (with permission) in each section. This information is scientifically based.  E-Fauna BC also acts as a portal to other sites via deep links.  As always, users should refer to the original sources for complete information.  E-Fauna BC is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the original information.

© E-Fauna BC 2021: An initiative of the Spatial Data Lab, Department of Geography, UBC