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Becker, George C. / Fishes of Wisconsin

Sunfish family - centrarchidae,   pp. 799-868 PDF (36.6 MB)

Page 799

Sunfish Family- 
  Eleven species of centrarchids in four genera are known from Wiscon- 
sin. In the United States and Canada, 32 species in 9 genera are known. 
According to Miller (1959), the Centrarchidae probably arose from some 
specialized serranid progenitor which invaded fresh water during or be- 
fore the Eocene period. The hypothetical primitive centrarchid probably 
was a free-swimming inhabitant of lowland waters, with a shape and 
size comparable to that of Ambloplites. From the distribution of present
species and of species and genera known only as fossils, it would ap- 
pear that the centrarchid center of origin was located in the Mississippi
Valley (Branson and Moore 1962). By the beginning of the Pleistocene 
many of the extant genera, and some that disappeared before the close 
of that period, were in existence. 
  The sunfishes are typically spiny-rayed fishes, with 6-13 spines in the
anterior dorsal fin, and 3-9 spines in the anterior part of the anal fin.
The spinous and soft-rayed dorsal fins are generally joined as one fin. 
The fish are for the most part deep bodied and strongly compressed lat- 
erally. Fine teeth appear in brushlike bands on both the upper and lower
jaws, and the lower pharyngeal arches broaden into pads bearing conical 
or molarlike teeth ("throat-teeth"). The swim bladder is isolated
from the 
esophagus (physoclistous condition). The pectoral fins are moderately 
high on the body, and the pelvic fins are located almost directly below 
them and slightly posteriorly. The caudal fin is notched or slightly forked.
  All sunfish species tend to be nest builders, although occasionally 
some species use the nests of other fishes that have already spawned. 

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