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Longear sunfish with Fantail darters?

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#1 Peixe11

  • NANFA Member

Posted 07 September 2021 - 02:02 PM

At what size approximately would well-fed longear sunfish start viewing darters as prey? I've got a 75 gallon that I thought I might put some young sunfish in with some fantails in until I set up a permanent tank for the darters next.

#2 littlen

  • NANFA Member
  • Washington, D.C.

Posted 08 September 2021 - 11:28 AM

With lots of rocks, caves, and hides, maybe never.  The Fantails are pretty swift and elusive.  An abundant amount of caves/driftwood to hide under and it'll shoot out to grab food and go back into hiding.  But I wouldn't have concerns until the sunfish was closer to 4" or so, and a smaller Fantail at that.  But in a 75, the darters have the speed and space to evade predation.  I'd certainly give it a go.

Nick L.

#3 Peixe11

  • NANFA Member

Posted 08 September 2021 - 08:24 PM

Thanks, sizewise I should be good for the time being. The largest sunfish is about 4" but the fantails are all adults. I'll add some more structure with small hiding spots to tanks before I try. Though that then raises the question of getting the fantails out if I want to move them to a new tank haha!

#4 Fleendar the Magnificent

Fleendar the Magnificent
  • NANFA Member
  • Ohio

Posted 08 September 2021 - 09:32 PM

I've kept both in a 29 gallon without any issues. However.... Size DOES matter. If it fits, it will / can inevitably end up there if they're underfed. In my 29 gallon tank I had (all adults) 4 fantails, at least 6 rainbow darters and 4 banded darters along with several spotfin shiners and a few bluntnose minnows. I fed them twice a day without any issues at all. Now drop in a minnow fry that's less than 1" and the sunfish and rainbows went wild.


Hungry fish are healthy fish, but TOO hungry and too cramped fish will result in attacks. Right now I have a 16 gallon bow-front with (1) 3 1/8" Longear sunfish, 3 rusty crayfish, 1 rainbow darter, 2 bluntnose minnows and 4 spotfin shiners and they live relatively peaceful lives. However, the longear does get aggressive and chases them from time to time. I think that a lot of that has to do with tank size. Since I feed them twice a day, the crays ignore the darter.


Revisiting size. The longear is a smaller-mouthed specie. They're better(to a point) for tanks with smaller denizens. That doesn't mean that they WON'T eat them (revisit size matters), but they're less likely if the other fish are smaller and you feed them correctly.


Getting the fantails out? Do that during a water change. When I want to catch and move darters, I typically do this when I have the tank drained at least 50% and have removed the cover. However, if your tank is big enough with enough cover, you won't need to worry about removing the darters and changing the tank layout(which causes more chaos with more than one sunfish).

Darters... Their name bespeaks their abilities. They are extremely fast. Their biggest risk of predation is crayfish at night. If you have crayfish in your tank, and while the fish sleep, the crays prowl and can / will kill them. If you don't have crays and you provide enough food and cover, you'll not have a problem. I have crays and still do with zero issues.


The Grumpy Old Man.

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