sunfish,

such

as

crappie,

pumpkinseeds,


and

smallmouth

bass.
Diet

-


Young


bluegills'


diet


consists

of


rotifers

and

water


fleas.


The


adult


diet


consists
of

aquatic


insect


larvae


(mayflies,


caddisflies,


dragonflies),


but


can

also


include
crayfish,

leeches,


snails,


and

other


small


fish.


Their


diet


can

also


include

the
waxworm
and

night


crawler


that


can

be

provided


for


them

by

anglers.

If

food


is
scarce,

bluegill


will


also


feed


on

aquatic


vegetation,


and

if

scarce


enough,

will


even
feed

on

their


own


eggs

or


offspring.


As

bluegill


sometimes


spend


time


near


the
surface

of


water,


they


can

also


feed


on

popping

bugs

and

dry


flies.
Most

bluegills

feed


during


daylight


hours,


with


a

feeding


peak

being


observed

in


the


morning

and

evening
(with
the


major


peak

occurring

in


the


evening).


Feeding

location


tends


to


be

a

balance


between


food
abundance

and

predator


abundance.


Bluegill


use

gill


rakers


and

bands


of


small


teeth


to


ingest


their


food.
During

summer

months,

bluegills

generally

consume

35

percent


of


their


body

weight


each

week.


To

capture
prey,

bluegills

use

a

suction

system

in


which

they


accelerate

water


into

their


mouth.

Prey

comes


in


with


this
water.

Only

a

limited


amount


of


water


is


able


to


be

suctioned,

so

the


fish

must


get


within

1.75


centimeters

of
the

prey.
Reproduction
and


lifestyle


-


Spawning


season


for


bluegills

starts


late

in


May


and

extends


into

August.


The
peak
of

the


spawning


season


usually

occurs


in


June

in
waters

of


67°


to


80°F.


The


male

bluegills

arrive
first

at


the


mating


site.


They


will


make


a

spawning
bed
of


six


to


12

inches


in


diameter


in


shallow
water,

clustering


as

many


as

50

beds

together.
The

males

scoop

out


these


beds

in


gravel


or
sand.

Males

tend


to


be

very


protective


and

chase
everything
away


from

their


nests,


especially


other
male
bluegills.


Some

Bluegill,


regardless

of


their
small

size,

will


even

attack

snorkelers

if

they
approach
the


edge


of


the


nest.


As

a
female
approaches

the


male

will


begin


circling

and
making

grunting

noises.


The


motion


and

sound


of
the

males

seem


to


attract


the


females.
Females

are


very


choosy

and

will


usually

pick


males

with


larger

bodies


and

"ears",

making


larger

size


a
desirable
trait


for


males

to


have.


If

the


female


enters


the


nest,


both


the


male

and

female


will


circle


each

other,
with

the


male

expressing


very


aggressive


behavior


toward


the


female.


If

the


female


stays,


the


pair


will


enter
the

nest


and

come


to


rest


in


the


middle.


With

the


male

in


an

upright

posture,


the


pair


will


touch


bellies,


quiver,
and
spawn.
These

actions

are


repeated


at


irregular


intervals


several


times


in


a

row.


Once


the


spawning


is


done,


the


male
will

chase

the


female


out


of


the


nest


and

guard

the


eggs.


The


fertilization


process


is


entirely


external.


The
male's
sperm

combines


with


the


female's


eggs

in


the


water.


Smaller


males

will


often


hide


in


nearby

weeds