Banded Sunfish (Enneacanthus Obesus)

banded sunfish

Last updated on July 20th, 2022 at 10:17 am

The banded sunfish (Enneacanthus obesus) is one of the most common fish in ponds and lakes throughout Florida, Tennessee, and Texas. This fish grows from 2 to 3 inches long, making it ideal for small ponds or even backyard aquariums. They will eat almost any live food you throw at them, but make sure to feed them often, as these fish have a voracious appetite.

They are freshwater fish belonging to the family Centrarchidae, which also includes various other species of sunfish, as well as basses, crappies, and rock basses. They’re native to North America and are found throughout the central and eastern portions of the continent.

The banded sunfish are small and often misidentified fish, especially to the novice hobbyist, and they can be difficult to care for. That said, banded sunfish are relatively hardy fish, and with proper diet and care, they can make interesting additions to your home aquarium, especially if you’re looking to breed them!

Here’s how to care for your banded sunfish.

Origin and descriptions

Banded sunfish (Enneacanthus obesus) are native to South America, where they live in flowing rivers and streams. The native range for this fish is in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. They were first documented in United States water bodies as early as 1945 in California.

Banded sunfish are also established as an invasive species across multiple waters of Oregon. They prefer habitats with a moderate current and rocky bottoms that provide shelter from predators. They feed on small invertebrates including insects and insect larvae.

Species profile

banded sunfish

Banded sunfish belong to the family Centrarchidae, which is a large family of freshwater fish that includes popular species such as largemouth bass and bluegill. They are native to North America and can be found in bodies of water ranging from small streams to large lakes. These fish are omnivores and feed on a variety of aquatic organisms, including insects, crustaceans, algae, and other plants.

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Scientific name

The scientific name of the banded sunfish is Enneacanthus obesus


Banded sunfish prefer small warm-water streams, ponds, and lakes with plenty of vegetation. The water must be oxygenated but not too fast. These fish are very sensitive to pollution, so it’s important that their environment is clean. A banded sunfish will die if its water temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). If you live in a colder climate, you can keep your sunfish indoors during the winter months by using an aquarium heater.


Banded sunfish can grow up to 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) in length.

Tank size

Due to their small size, the minimum recommended tank size for this fish is 10 gallons (38 liters).

Tank requirements

Enneacanthus obesus prefer large, well-planted aquariums with lots of water movement and hiding places. They also require slightly acidic conditions (6.0–7.0) and should not be kept with aggressive or territorial fish. If you plan on keeping multiple banded sunfish, make sure they are added at different times so that all their territories can be established before any fighting starts.

They will accept a wide variety of foods including flakes, frozen, freeze-dried, and live foods. Feed them several times a day in smaller amounts instead of one large feeding once a day. Make sure to remove uneaten food from the tank immediately as it will pollute your water.

Tank mates

The Enneacanthus obesus will live well with other freshwater fish but should not be housed with aggressive or territorial species. Due to their small size, it is not recommended that they be housed with larger fish. In addition, because of their small mouths and tendency to pick at algae and other foods on surfaces of rocks and plants, they are likely not appropriate companions for bottom-dwelling or plant-eating species.

Some good tank mates are danios, tetras, catfish, and loaches. They should not be housed with other sunfishes as they will fight.

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banded sunfish

Males typically reach sexual maturity around two years of age, while females do so closer to three years. Once they have reached maturity, spawning can occur anytime between early spring and late summer. These fish tend to spawn over a period of several days rather than all at once.

Females may lay anywhere from 100-300 eggs per spawn, which are then guarded by males until hatching occurs. Both parents will guard their young until they are free swimming, which occurs some days after hatching. Young may remain with their parents for an additional one to two weeks after becoming free swimming before heading off on their own.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Just like all sunfish, Enneacanthus obesus are generally peaceful community fish that prefer schools and plenty of open space. Like other members of their family, they’re also active and energetic swimmers—so if you want one in your aquarium, make sure there’s a lot of swimming room.

Banded sunfish care

banded sunfish

On top of requiring a 10-gallon aquarium, banded sunfish care requires pH levels between 6.5 and 7.5 and a temperature range between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (20–22 degrees Celsius). If you’re keeping one or more banded sunfish in an outdoor pond, you’ll need to ensure that it is at least three feet deep.

Like other tropical fish, banded sunfish are prone to parasites like ich, but these can be treated with aquarium salt. Be sure to keep your water clean by performing regular water changes. These fish also require plenty of swimming space, so make sure they have plenty of room to move around. They do best when kept in schools—at least five individuals—and will often eat each other if kept alone.

What they eat

Banded sunfish are omnivores that feed primarily on algae and small aquatic insects. They also eat snails, worms, crustaceans, and minnows. You can feed them flakes or brine shrimp at first, but they need time to adjust to their new home before you start feeding them live food.

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banded sunfish

This fish species can live for 3-4 years when properly cared for.

Parasites and diseases

The most common disease problem seen in freshwater tropical fish is Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis). This is a white spot that grows on scales and fins. It appears as small circular white spots or lines on fins and scales, it is visible to the naked eye and looks like salt or pepper sprinkled over the fish’s body.

Ich will eat away at your fishes skin and fins until they are gone. You will notice your fish scratching against objects in its tank. You may also see red streaks along its sides or just see areas of redness on its body; these are all signs of ich.


The banded sunfish are at risk of being eaten by predators like bluegill, largemouth bass, and even humans. This could lead to problems if you plan on keeping your sunfish in an aquarium with other fish or animals.

Do banded sunfish make good pets?

Yes. Banded sunfish are a fairly hardy species and they are excellent aquarium fish. They can be housed in small groups, but should not be kept with other species of sunfish because they may fight. As they are very active swimmers, they require a tank of at least 10 gallons. This size tank also helps to maintain stable water parameters and reduce aggression between individuals.