This tiny, delicate-looking fresh water species is native to Maryland and throughout the Mid-Atlantic region from New Jersey to Florida. But today, the fish is critically imperiled because of pesticides and the elimination of the swamps and ponds where it likes to breed. The species may also be threatened by hobbyists who collect it for aquariums. Many states do not allow Black-banded sunfish to be collected and some hobbyists discourage removing individuals from the wild because the population is so fragile.
It gets its name from the six black vertical bars running on each side of its body. It is silver in color with yellow flecks on its sides and its dorsal fin has 10 fine spines that are mottled black and silver. Adults range from 2 to 3 inches in length. The fish belongs to the Centrarchidae family, which includes the sunfishes, crappies and black basses.
The blackbanded sunfish is found in quiet, shallow lakes and ponds where there are swamps, dense vegetation and streams with sand or mud bottoms. It feeds on midge larvae, daphnia, scuds and aquatic beetles found among the weeds.
courtesy of Wayne Davis