Jump to content


Keeping bluegills some questions.


  • Please log in to reply
70 replies to this topic

#1 Lee

Lee
  • NANFA Guest
  • Rocky Mt's.

Posted 19 January 2007 - 11:47 PM

Hi, I'm new here, just found there was a board for native fish, after searching tons of tropical boards for any information on bluegill keeping. I've asked many people, and I've received a lot of different advice..

I'll begin with a bit of my back story on why I want to keep bluegills. When I was young, like 6-8, I went to a camp, my dad and I managed to wrangle a bluegill, but it escaped. Another 15 minutes later, we have another one on the line, and we scoop him into a 1 gallon container full of lake water and into the trunk he goes the next day for the ride home. He was placed in a 10-20 (not sure was long ago) aquarium, where he lived a good 2 years, eating anything we would toss in. When it came time to move, we could not move him, we had a bearded dragon already to move.. I gave him to a friend, whom I thought was going to keep him in a nice tank etc. I found he released him into a local pond..
I miss the little guy and am interested in keeping some bluegills or bluegill/sunfish combo.

Now I'm most likely going to get a 55 gallon, although, if I can find a 6 ft 75g, or 6 ft 125 for cheap I'd get them, but I have access to brand new 55's for only 110$.
I have a friend in lousiana who has access to some fish which he can get for me come summer time. He has told me they really don't get real big where he's at, although I don't have specific sizes yet. I'd like to know how many I could get in a 55? I've been told 1 (everyone claims super highly aggressive, although most posts I've found claim otherwise) all th way up to 5 in the 55.

I know they are aggressive fish, I keep betta fish, and female bettas are aggressive much like the males, but if you put 3-6 into the tank together, they form a pecking order and the bullying goes down. Can this work with bluegills?

Also, Since they are from warmer waters, I will simply be keeping them at room temp, which will stay in the 70's, they are hardy fish, mine survived at 6 inches for 2 years in a 10-20 gallon with no temperature requirements or heavy filtering.. I have an african clawed frog, who will grow to be about 5 inches (the body not including legs) When I get the tank set up, would I need to worry about the bluegills attacking the frog? I'd be getting about 3 inch BG's and the frog is 3 inches right now, so she will probably be 4-5 inches by then, if they BG's grow up with the frog around, will they be less likely to attack?

Any insight regarding keeping these wonderful fish is appreciated!

#2 EdBihary

EdBihary
  • NANFA Member
  • Pitcairn, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (Suburban Pittsburgh)

Posted 20 January 2007 - 12:43 AM

View PostLee, on Jan 19 2007, 11:47 PM, said:

Now I'm most likely going to get a 55 gallon, although, if I can find a 6 ft 75g, or 6 ft 125 for cheap I'd get them, but I have access to brand new 55's for only 110$.
I have a friend in lousiana who has access to some fish which he can get for me come summer time. He has told me they really don't get real big where he's at, although I don't have specific sizes yet. I'd like to know how many I could get in a 55? I've been told 1 (everyone claims super highly aggressive, although most posts I've found claim otherwise) all th way up to 5 in the 55.

I know they are aggressive fish, I keep betta fish, and female bettas are aggressive much like the males, but if you put 3-6 into the tank together, they form a pecking order and the bullying goes down. Can this work with bluegills?

Also, Since they are from warmer waters, I will simply be keeping them at room temp, which will stay in the 70's, they are hardy fish, mine survived at 6 inches for 2 years in a 10-20 gallon with no temperature requirements or heavy filtering.. I have an african clawed frog, who will grow to be about 5 inches (the body not including legs) When I get the tank set up, would I need to worry about the bluegills attacking the frog? I'd be getting about 3 inch BG's and the frog is 3 inches right now, so she will probably be 4-5 inches by then, if they BG's grow up with the frog around, will they be less likely to attack?

Any insight regarding keeping these wonderful fish is appreciated!
First, update your profile with your location information.  It is very helpful in providing advice to know where you are.

There are different ways of thinking about this, everywhere, including on this forum.  Some feel you minimize aggression by sparsely populating your tank, so nobody needs to infringe on another's territory.  Others, myself included, feel that you minimize aggression by crowding a tank, so nobody has the opportunity to claim a territory.  I have found this strategy to work well with both cichlids and sunfish.  You can get a lot of small to medium sunfish in a 55 gallon tank.

There is nothing wrong with keeping bluegills, they can be nice fish.  But really, they are the plainest looking sunfish.  And they are a dime a dozen around here.  I would try something more colorful.  Longears, pumpkinseeds, spotted, redbreast, warmouth, orangespotted, bantam, dollar, to name a few sunfish, are all more colorful than the bluegill.  It depends on what's available where you live, or what you can beg, trade for, or buy.  I keep a bluegill just to say I have one.  But it's the least interesting of my sunfish.  Like I said, tell us where you are by updating your profile, and you will get some suggestions.

It seems to me to be unlikely that a sunfish would attack a 5-inch frog.  But I don't really know.  I've never kept a frog.

Regardless of which sunfish you choose, bluegills included, you will be very happy.  Sunfish are awesome!

#3 smbass

smbass
  • Global Moderator
  • Gambier, Ohio

Posted 20 January 2007 - 12:44 AM

I keep a lot of sunfish, I currently don't have any bluegill but I have many other similar species. You can definately keep several in a 55 gallon tank and your are correct in saying they will likely develope a pecking order. I have found with just about all species of sunfish the trick to reducing aggressive behaviors is to have lots of hiding places for the not so dominant fish and have the tank close to over stocked. I would say if you go with all bluegill to try about 5 of them in a 55, If you can get a 75 (they are usually the same length just wider) the extra width is nice gives the fish more floor space to work with. You may want to consider a bluegill or two and a couple other sunfish species to mix things up a bit. If you are not familiar with any of the others here are a few pictures of other species that get similar sized...

Good old bluegill
Attached File  Bluegill1_by_BZ.jpg   29.86K   20 downloads

Warmouth
Attached File  young_Warmouth_3_by_BZ.JPG   39.78K   15 downloads

Green Sunfish
Attached File  Male_Green_Sunfish1_Outlet_of_Springville_Marsh_Aug_06_by_BZ.JPG   48.59K   22 downloads

Pumpkinseed
Attached File  male_pumpkinseed1_north_reservoir_portage_lakes_may_06_by_JZ.jpg   32.8K   24 downloads

Redbreast Sunfish
Attached File  Redbreast_Sunfish1_GA_aquarium_by_BZ.JPG   28.63K   17 downloads

Brian J. Zimmerman
Crew Leader for the Fishes of Ohio
Inventory and Distribution Project

Gambier, Ohio - Kokosing River Drainage


#4 Lee

Lee
  • NANFA Guest
  • Rocky Mt's.

Posted 20 January 2007 - 12:54 AM

Updated profile..
Thanks both of you for your quick posts! Glad to have found a native fish forum and not having to ask information from tropical fish keepers about fish they don't keep as often!

I wasn't really planning on having all 5 fish be blue gills, I've tossed around a lot of ideas, and I'm more than happy to have 5 completely different varietys in my tank. I just know I want 1 bluegill for memories sake! I saw the post for some Free sunfish, if I had my tank already, and it was set up I would be jumping at them, but right now I'm strapped for cash for another probably few weeks, and we have another snow storm comming in soon...

Also, any thoughts of having yellow perch with sunfish/bluegills? Or are they too big or will they be bullied too much?

#5 smbass

smbass
  • Global Moderator
  • Gambier, Ohio

Posted 20 January 2007 - 01:10 AM

I couldn't help it here's a few more species or I should say the rest of the Lepomis genus or typical sunfsih group except maybe a redear don't have a great pic of one of them.

Central Longear Sunfish
Attached File  Central_Longear_Sunfish_big_darby_creek_8_13_06.jpg   49.53K   19 downloads

Northern Longear Sunfish
Attached File  Male_Northern_Longear_from_Blanchard_River1_by_BZ.JPG   46.8K   17 downloads

Bantam Sunfish
Attached File  male_bantam_sunfish2_by_JZ.JPG   44.71K   13 downloads

Orangespotted Sunfish
Attached File  Male_Orange_Spot_from_Paint_Creek_Lake_by_AK.jpg   42.88K   13 downloads

Redspotted Sunfish
Attached File  young_male_Redspotted_Sunfish4_Black_River_MO_9_17_06_by_BZ.jpg   48.43K   8 downloads

Blackspotted Sunfish
Attached File  spotted_sunfish4_suwanee_river_florida_5_25_06_by_BZ.jpg   37.41K   12 downloads

ok so they don't fit in one post I'll make one more...

Brian J. Zimmerman
Crew Leader for the Fishes of Ohio
Inventory and Distribution Project

Gambier, Ohio - Kokosing River Drainage


#6 Lee

Lee
  • NANFA Guest
  • Rocky Mt's.

Posted 20 January 2007 - 01:13 AM

Its hard to pick which ones I like the most, very pretty fish!

#7 smbass

smbass
  • Global Moderator
  • Gambier, Ohio

Posted 20 January 2007 - 01:19 AM

Eastern Dollar Sunfish
Attached File  Male_Eastern_Dollar_Sunfish3_by_BZ.jpg   41.3K   14 downloads

Western Dollar Sunfish
Attached File  young_male_Western_Dollar_Sunfish5_Mingo_River_Swamp_MO_9_18_06_by_BZ.jpg   49.24K   12 downloads

Ok I'm done now, that prety well give you your options as far as the typical sunfish group goes. Not all of these get the same size or have the same temperment but if you had a 125 or so I would think you could put 1 or 2 of each in there with lots of hiding places and it would make a really cool setup.

Brian J. Zimmerman
Crew Leader for the Fishes of Ohio
Inventory and Distribution Project

Gambier, Ohio - Kokosing River Drainage


#8 EdBihary

EdBihary
  • NANFA Member
  • Pitcairn, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (Suburban Pittsburgh)

Posted 20 January 2007 - 01:20 AM

View PostLee, on Jan 20 2007, 12:54 AM, said:

Also, any thoughts of having yellow perch with sunfish/bluegills? Or are they too big or will they be bullied too much?
I have a yellow perch, about maybe 7", in with a group of sunfish that range from about 2.5" to about 5".  That includes bluegill, pumpkinseed, central longear, and green sunfish.  The yellow perch will eat young of year (YOY) sunfish, but it does not bother the sunfish that are in there with it.  It will voraciously eat anything it can fit in its mouth, but it is totally non-aggressive toward anything not regarded as food.  I really like the yellow perch, and highly recommend it as a sunfish companion.

Another good thing about both yellow perch and sunfish is that they will eat just about anything.  There is virtually no training time; you put the food in, they eat, almost from day one.  I mainly feed them freeze-dried freshwater shrimp from Avid Aquatics.  Smaller ones that can't fit the shrimp in their mouths, freeze-dried krill pacifica (also from Avid Aquatics).  Of course, live food, whether wild caught or from your LFS, should be given from time to time as a treat and for good health.  Besides, its fun watching them chase down a bunch of small minnows.

In my opinion, you need a catfish to serve as vacuum cleaner in just about every tank.  A lot of people here like bullheads.  In my opinion, bullheads grow too big.  Channel catfish grow WAY too big.  Madtoms, on the other hand, are perfect.  None gets over about five inches.  Just give them a pile of rocks or some other hiding place, and they are happy.  I have a margined madtom in with my sunfish and yellow perch.

Brian is posting some pictures of some nice fish.  Here is a site I like for fish information:
http://www.natureser...let/NatureServe

#9 Lee

Lee
  • NANFA Guest
  • Rocky Mt's.

Posted 20 January 2007 - 01:21 AM

Funny thing, there was a 125 on craigslist that I called about earlier for 50$, but I was 2 weeks too late, and I hadn't tossed around the idea of a tank that big! Gosh, 125 with those fish, that would be like 20 fish wow would be amazing. =)

#10 sandtiger

sandtiger
  • NANFA Guest
  • Finger Lakes Region, NY

Posted 20 January 2007 - 01:22 AM

If you want to keep bluegill that's fine, but keep in mind their size. Though smbass suggests 5 for a 55g I'm a bit less liberal. I think that's too much for a 55g for the average fishkeeper. Bluegills are among the largest sunfishes, I think perhaps one or two would be best but again with two...you might have aggresion. If you want to stock it with a  lot of sunfish go with something smaller like longears or dollers. You asked about the frog and perch. I'm unsure about the frog but generally speaking ACF don't do well with large aggresive fish, they don't compete well and sometimes end up as food. As for the perch, they grow to large for a 55g. If you're set on a bluegill for a 55g I would go with only that, it would really make your tank cleanings a lot more easy. Or maybe add smaller tankmates like a shoal of a cyprinid species that grows in the 4-6" range, or perhaps a smaller catfish.
Arthur Masloski
Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga Lakes
New York

#11 Lee

Lee
  • NANFA Guest
  • Rocky Mt's.

Posted 20 January 2007 - 01:31 AM

View Postedbihary, on Jan 19 2007, 11:20 PM, said:

I have a yellow perch, about maybe 7", in with a group of sunfish that range from about 2.5" to about 5".  That includes bluegill, pumpkinseed, central longear, and green sunfish.  The yellow perch will eat young of year (YOY) sunfish, but it does not bother the sunfish that are in there with it.  It will voraciously eat anything it can fit in its mouth, but it is totally non-aggressive toward anything not regarded as food.  I really like the yellow perch, and highly recommend it as a sunfish companion.

Another good thing about both yellow perch and sunfish is that they will eat just about anything.  There is virtually no training time; you put the food in, they eat, almost from day one.  I mainly feed them freeze-dried freshwater shrimp from Avid Aquatics.  Smaller ones that can't fit the shrimp in their mouths, freeze-dried krill pacifica (also from Avid Aquatics).  Of course, live food, whether wild caught or from your LFS, should be given from time to time as a treat and for good health.  Besides, its fun watching them chase down a bunch of small minnows.

In my opinion, you need a catfish to serve as vacuum cleaner in just about every tank.  A lot of people here like bullheads.  In my opinion, bullheads grow too big.  Channel catfish grow WAY too big.  Madtoms, on the other hand, are perfect.  None gets over about five inches.  Just give them a pile of rocks or some other hiding place, and they are happy.  I have a margined madtom in with my sunfish and yellow perch.

Brian is posting some pictures of some nice fish.  Here is a site I like for fish information:
http://www.natureser...let/NatureServe
Hi tank you, I was replying when you posted this lol. And wow look 7 members in here, A+ forum for sure! Yes yellow perch are very nice looking fish, I just wonder that when he gets bigger if he will go at my frog, which I wouldn't be too pleased about. Madtom, I'll look those up and see if I can find any for cheap.
Now I'm wanting to find a bigger tank than 55, with the idea of a perch, sunfish, and a catfish in there...

View Postsandtiger, on Jan 19 2007, 11:22 PM, said:

If you want to keep bluegill that's fine, but keep in mind their size. Though smbass suggests 5 for a 55g I'm a bit less liberal. I think that's too much for a 55g for the average fishkeeper. Bluegills are among the largest sunfishes, I think perhaps one or two would be best but again with two...you might have aggresion. If you want to stock it with a  lot of sunfish go with something smaller like longears or dollers. You asked about the frog and perch. I'm unsure about the frog but generally speaking ACF don't do well with large aggresive fish, they don't compete well and sometimes end up as food. As for the perch, they grow to large for a 55g. If you're set on a bluegill for a 55g I would go with only that, it would really make your tank cleanings a lot more easy. Or maybe add smaller tankmates like a shoal of a cyprinid species that grows in the 4-6" range, or perhaps a smaller catfish.
So many posts so fast.. No I've decided on getting a single bluegill and then some other sunfish. As well as looking for anything thats 6ft long and I can get in my house! I am really thinking your doubting ACF's, mine is was pretty aggressive, and very fast. I added 2 goldfish too his tank once to hold them temporarily (snake food). He had no problem chasing these 6 inchers all over his tank, and eating all of their flakes before them. Cyprinid=? I've looked at a lot of local fish, and the ones that have really appealed to me are sunfish/bluegill/perch/bass. some catfish are nice, and I've seen some nice looking rainbow darters, but I'm really looking to go with a sunfish/bluegill tank at this point!

#12 smbass

smbass
  • Global Moderator
  • Gambier, Ohio

Posted 20 January 2007 - 01:40 AM

As Ed pointed out above your getting both methods here for reducing aggression, I personally go with the overstock and do more tank maintenance because I have precious little space and like to have a lot of fish. But aggression certainly can also be taken care of by having only 1 fish in the tank too. It likely will get larger and your tank maintenace drops to close to nothing. I'm a firm beleiver it can be done both ways just as long as it is done properly and you are aware that the over stocking idea means you need to clean/ do atleast a 25% - 50% water change every week to week and a half and on the other hand a planted tank with one fish can go a long time without much maintenance. Bluegill are one of the larger ones and it would be pushing it to have 5 in a 55 but if your willing to keep up with the maintenance that many would likely cause any one from getting picked on too much.

Brian J. Zimmerman
Crew Leader for the Fishes of Ohio
Inventory and Distribution Project

Gambier, Ohio - Kokosing River Drainage


#13 Lee

Lee
  • NANFA Guest
  • Rocky Mt's.

Posted 20 January 2007 - 01:44 AM

Maintenance won't be a big deal for me, no worries. Yea I know about stocking well, I have 5 female bettas and 3 cory catfish in a 10g tank, and the water has gotten murky, sadly, I can't change it for another few days.. I "cured" one of the girls of fin rot, and it came back up with the rest of them, she never got rid of it fully, but maracyn is doing its job, just don't want to change and throw off the medications.

#14 sandtiger

sandtiger
  • NANFA Guest
  • Finger Lakes Region, NY

Posted 20 January 2007 - 01:53 AM

Well if you're die hard on having multiple sunfish in the tank then I would go with a single blugeill and a few smaller species such as longears. Longears are smaller but should be able to hold their own but also won't overstock your tank as much as 5 bluegill would. Perhaps three longears and the bluegill would work out?
As for the frog, I just don't like mixing fish with amphibians. It generally does not work out for me. And yeah, your frog may be fast and aggresive but sunfish are faster and typically more aggresive, in the wild they would eat a frog (though a 5" frog is large) and bluegills are large fish. Also, with the number of sunfish you want, getting food to the frog might be difficult. Try it if you want, I just know I would not.
Arthur Masloski
Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga Lakes
New York

#15 Lee

Lee
  • NANFA Guest
  • Rocky Mt's.

Posted 20 January 2007 - 01:58 AM

View Postsandtiger, on Jan 19 2007, 11:53 PM, said:

Well if you're die hard on having multiple sunfish in the tank then I would go with a single blugeill and a few smaller species such as longears. Longears are smaller but should be able to hold their own but also won't overstock your tank as much as 5 bluegill would. Perhaps three longears and the bluegill would work out?
As for the frog, I just don't like mixing fish with amphibians. It generally does not work out for me. And yeah, your frog may be fast and aggresive but sunfish are faster and typically more aggresive, in the wild they would eat a frog (though a 5" frog is large) and bluegills are large fish. Also, with the number of sunfish you want, getting food to the frog might be difficult. Try it if you want, I just know I would not.
Which is what I was planning (well not 3 longears, I want a bit more variety), at least, for a 55.. I don't really want 5 bluegill all in 1 tank, although they are smaller (according to my friend). I'm really not worried about a bluegill/sunfish eating my frog. I bet she'd go after the bluegill/sunfish long before they came after her.. Not to mention ACF's eat minnows aswell, and will easily get some of them when I add them to the tank for feeding.

#16 sandtiger

sandtiger
  • NANFA Guest
  • Finger Lakes Region, NY

Posted 20 January 2007 - 02:08 AM

View PostLee, on Jan 20 2007, 06:58 AM, said:

Which is what I was planning (well not 3 longears, I want a bit more variety), at least, for a 55.. I don't really want 5 bluegill all in 1 tank, although they are smaller (according to my friend). I'm really not worried about a bluegill/sunfish eating my frog. I bet she'd go after the bluegill/sunfish long before they came after her.. Not to mention ACF's eat minnows aswell, and will easily get some of them when I add them to the tank for feeding.

Well whatever you're planning, I would make the species small and keep up on those water changes. What does you're friend mean by "smaller"? Does your friend claim they are smaller then normal bluegills? Because the truth it, all bluegill have the same growth potensial given the right environment, diet and water conditions. Should you maintain your tank the right way your bluegill should keep on growing. And keep in mind, most fish never stop growing like humans do.
Arthur Masloski
Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga Lakes
New York

#17 Lee

Lee
  • NANFA Guest
  • Rocky Mt's.

Posted 20 January 2007 - 02:10 AM

He says they definetly don't get over 10 inches, if they do its very rare.. Although, I do believe in some areas, populations can be changed over time to grow less because of predators etc.. Not sure exactly how big they get though. I have to ask him.

#18 sandtiger

sandtiger
  • NANFA Guest
  • Finger Lakes Region, NY

Posted 20 January 2007 - 02:24 AM

View PostLee, on Jan 20 2007, 07:10 AM, said:

He says they definetly don't get over 10 inches, if they do its very rare.. Although, I do believe in some areas, populations can be changed over time to grow less because of predators etc.. Not sure exactly how big they get though. I have to ask him.

I think a lot of times, the reason we see stunting in small farm ponds and other wild environments is probably due to things like overpopulation, stress, lack of food or maybe even inbreeding. I think if you remove these fish from said environment and place them in a normally functioning ecosystem they will grow normally like any other fish, unless long term damage permanantly stunts and individual. Either way, a 10" bluegill is still no small fish.



View PostLee, on Jan 20 2007, 06:58 AM, said:

I'm really not worried about a bluegill/sunfish eating my frog. I bet she'd go after the bluegill/sunfish long before they came after her.. Not to mention ACF's eat minnows aswell, and will easily get some of them when I add them to the tank for feeding.

It seems like you already made up your mind, that's fine...try it if you like. In my defence, you did ask us if we thought it would work.
Arthur Masloski
Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga Lakes
New York

#19 Lee

Lee
  • NANFA Guest
  • Rocky Mt's.

Posted 20 January 2007 - 02:40 AM

Yea, I guess, sometimes you never really know for sure until you've tried it for yourself.
Tommorow I'll come up with some possible plans for the tank stocking, etc.

#20 keepnatives

keepnatives
  • NANFA Member
  • Schenectady NY

Posted 20 January 2007 - 07:47 PM

View PostLee, on Jan 20 2007, 02:40 AM, said:

Yea, I guess, sometimes you never really know for sure until you've tried it for yourself.
Tommorow I'll come up with some possible plans for the tank stocking, etc.
If the frog will be 5-6 inches and the sunfish 3 inches I wouldn't be too worried about the frog.  The sunfish may not get the chance to grow those frogs are eating machines.  Plus beware when they get to that size breeding instincts come into play and man can they make some noise!

On numbers, I've kept several groups of sunfish in 40 to 55 gallon tanks with no problems.  Five in a 55 with plenty of cover and a school of minnows works just fine.  When temps get the breeding urge going just be ready to move some fish around.
Mike Lucas Mohawk-Hudson Watershed Schenectady NY




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

Please donate to NANFA to help pay for this forum (suggest $5).