Banded Pygmy Sunfish “Elassoma Zonatum”

banded pygmy sunfish

Last updated on August 4th, 2022 at 12:12 am

The banded pygmy sunfish is a small species of fish in the Elassoma genus. It has an average adult size of only one inch long. They are known for their bright colors which can range from blue to yellow, brown, or red, depending on where they are found geographically and what other organisms live in that area with them.

They prefer slow-moving waters in the wild but tend to live near swampy areas. These fish are omnivores and will eat both plant matter and small invertebrates like insects or aquatic larvae found in their habitat.

They are often found in small groups, as they prefer to live with their own species rather than mix with other types of fish. They will only interact or mix with others if it’s a mating ritual.

Origin and descriptions

banded pygmy sunfish

The banded pygmy sunfish is a small, colorful fish that can be found in many parts of the world. This species gets its name from the black and white bands that run along its body. They are relatively easy fish to care for, making it a popular choice for home aquariums. These fish typically reach a maximum length of about two inches and can live up to five years in captivity.

The banded pygmy sunfish is often confused with the dwarf pygmy sunfish because they are so similar in appearance. The biggest difference between these species is that the dwarf pygmy has a black stripe running along the center of its body, while the banded pygmy sunfish has a black stripe that is concentrated more towards one side.

The banded pygmy sunfish has many other names including; dwarf banded-sunfish, striped panchax, and zebra pama. This fish can be found in tropical waters around the world and is known to inhabit both fresh and saltwater.

The banded pygmy sunfish is a small, colorful fish that can be found in many parts of the world. This species gets its name from the black and white bands that run along its body.

Species profile

banded pygmy sunfish

The banded pygmy sunfish is a freshwater fish endemic to the southeastern United States, primarily in North Carolina. It was first described by Albert Günther in 1862 and named Enneacanthus obesus. Its genus name comes from the Greek word “ennea” meaning nine while its species epithet means “thick” or “obese.” It belongs to the family Centrarchidae which includes about 90 species of mostly freshwater sunfish found in North America, Central America, and parts of South America.

Brown Trout (Salmo Trutta)

The banded pygmy sunfish has a cylindrical body with olive-brown coloration on its back fading to pale yellow on its belly. Males are more elongated than females and have a longer dorsal fin with orange colors at the base fading to white at the tip of each lobe. It has three dark brown vertical bands that run vertically along its body: one across its eyes, another between gills, and lastly, one behind anal fins which are wider than the other two. Juveniles are less colorful than adults and have a black spot near the base of their tails.

The banded pygmy sunfish inhabits creeks, small to medium rivers, and ditches where it feeds mainly on insects, but also consumes algae and other plant material.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the banded pygmy sunfish is Elassoma zonatum

Color and appearance

Banded pygmy sunfish are olive green on their dorsal (upper) surface and silvery-white on their ventral (lower) surface. They have six dark, vertical bands that extend from the base of their dorsal fin to the tip of their caudal (tail) fin. The bands may be faint in some individuals.

The pectoral (side) and anal fins are transparent, while the dorsal and caudal fins are dusky. Juveniles have a black spot on the base of their dorsal fin.

Range and habitat

These sunfish are found in the southeastern United States from central Alabama to North Carolina. They inhabit mountain creeks and small rivers with rocky bottoms and little vegetation.

They prefer water temperatures between 15 and 32 degrees Celsius (59-90 degrees Fahrenheit) and can tolerate a wide range of water pH levels.

They are the smallest sunfish found in North America. They are very timid and will often hide when disturbed.


Banded pygmy sunfish are the smallest of all North American fishes. They typically reach a maximum length of about two inches, though some larger specimens have been reported.

Tank size

Banded pygmy sunfish are very small and will need a tank of at least five gallons when kept as pets.

Walking Catfish (Clarias Batrachus)

They tend to be territorial, so it is best to keep them in their own tank rather than with other fish. Since they prefer lots of hiding places, the decor in their tank should provide plenty of shelters. A sand or gravel substrate is preferred, and rocks should be smooth without sharp edges.

The tank should also include a cover lid to prevent these small fish from jumping out of the water. Lighting for the tank does not need to be bright but some light will help you observe your pet sunfish more easily.

Life cycle

Banded pygmy sunfish reach sexual maturity at around one year of age. They spawn in the spring, laying their eggs among aquatic plants or on submerged objects such as rocks.

The eggs hatch within a few days and the fry remain near the spawning site until they are able to fend for themselves. The young fish typically grow about one inch per month.

Pet-banded pygmy sunfish will eat almost anything, including fish flakes and pellets as well as bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, tubifex worms, and blackworms. Some may also take insects such as bees or crickets. They can be fed once a day but should not have food left in their tank after the feeding period as they may not eat it all and this will cause water quality problems.

Banded pygmy sunfish will be comfortable in a community tank with other small, peaceful fish such as danios, white cloud mountain minnows, or even dwarf crayfish. They can also be kept alone if you can provide them with a large enough tank.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Banded pygmy sunfish are relatively peaceful and will not bother other fish in the tank.

They may become aggressive towards each other if there is not enough space for them to establish their own territory, however, they can live successfully with other small species of fish or even dwarf crayfish.

Banded pygmy sunfish care

banded pygmy sunfish

The banded pygmy sunfish is a small fish that can be found in many different types of water. They are a great fish for beginner aquarists because they are easy to care for and hardy. In the wild, this sunfish live in schools and eat mostly insects.

What they eat

Banded pygmy sunfish are omnivores, which means that they eat both meaty foods and plant-based foods. In the wild, banded pygmy sunfish mostly eat insects but in an aquarium environment, you can feed them a variety of live or frozen brine shrimp, small earthworms (nightcrawlers), bloodworms, and tubifex worms. You can also give them a pinch of flake food or pellet food once a day.

Neolamprologus brichardi (Lyretail Cichlid)

Tank mates

They can be kept with other small fish, such as guppies, platys, and tetras. However, they should not be kept with larger fish that may eat them.

Water conditions

In order to ensure that your banded pygmy sunfish remain healthy in their new home, it is important to keep water conditions stable and suitable for them. Make sure the tank has a pH level between six and eight, a water hardness of less than 12 dGH, and a temperature range of 68-78 degrees Fahrenheit. The water should also be well-oxygenated and free of chlorine and heavy metals.

Your banded pygmy sunfish will also need plenty of places to hide, as they are shy fish that like to feel secure. A tank with a lot of plants and driftwood will provide them with plenty of hiding spots, as well as places to breed.

You should also keep in mind that these fish are highly sensitive to changes in water pH, temperature, and oxygen levels. Be sure to monitor the quality of your tank’s water with test kits regularly so you can make adjustments as needed before any problems arise.


banded pygmy sunfish

If you want to breed your banded pygmy sunfish, it is important that they feel safe and secure in their tank. To do this, make sure there are plenty of hiding places for the fish to play around with before breeding them.

The best time to try and breed them is when they have been together as a couple for at least five months. Feel free to remove any of the other fish from your tank before this time, as they may distract or even harm your sunfish while breeding.

Once you have taken these steps and are ready to breed them, feed the pair only live foods for several weeks so their stomachs will be full when it comes to time for spawning.

Although breeding is a challenge for aquarists who want to breed them in an aquarium. In the wild, they spawn during the wet season from March to August and lay their eggs on vegetation or rocks at night time when they are fully dark. The male will guard the eggs by fanning water towards them with his fins until hatching happens.

Hemibagrus Wyckioides (Asian Redtail Catfish)


Banded pygmy sunfish have a lifespan of up to four years in the wild.

In captivity, they usually last for about two years. This is likely due to the lack of food and parasites that can often be found in the wild. They are hardy fish and will do well in most community tanks provided they are not the only fish in the tank.

Parasites and diseases

Banded pygmy sunfish are susceptible to a variety of parasites and diseases in the wild. These include ichthyophthirius (ich), Costia, Trichodina, Chilodonella, and Columnaris.

They are also prone to skin flukes, which can cause major damage to their skin and lead to death.

In captivity, they are susceptible to ich, Costia, and Trichodina. Columnaris are also a problem in some tanks. It can be treated with antibiotics if caught early enough.

Skin flukes can also be treated with praziquantel or metronidazole if caught early enough.


Banded pygmy sunfish are prey for much larger fish. This includes bass, large catfish, and even other smaller species of sunfish (such as bluegill).

They can also generally be eaten by crows, herons, raccoons, otters, snakes, or turtles that may come into contact with them in the wild.

Does it make good pets?

Banded pygmy sunfish make good pets for the right person. They are hardy and easy to care for, but they require a specific type of tank setup.


Banded pygmy sunfish are hardy, interesting fish that make good pets for the right person. They require a specific type of tank setup and diet, but if you can meet these needs they can be a fun addition to your aquarium.