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Sunfish

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SUNFISH, a fresh-water fish of the family Centrarchidce, closely related to the perches (Percide) and including also the black bass, crappie, and calico bass. These fishes are among the most characteristic of the fresh waters of the United States, where all of the 12 genera and 30 species are found, and of these only one (Archoplites interruptus) occurs west of the Rocky Mountains. Because of their abundance, beautiful colors and forms, in teresting habits, courage and gameness, they are perhaps the best known and most esteemed of fresh-water fishes. Most of the true sun fishes belong to the genera Lepomis and Eupo motis, and the different species are not readily defined without a long technical description; but to the layman, or rather boy, all are known collectively as The commonest and most generally distributed species east of the Alleghany Mountains is E. gibbosus, one of the brilliant beauties of our clear brooks and ponds, the type of piscine courage and pugnacity, not fearing to assault any fish that approaches its nest, and itself proof against attacks even from pickerel. Like other sunfishes, it builds a nest of cleaned pebbles on a warm sunny bottom in shallow water, and the male stands guard over the eggs until they hatch and the young are able to care for themselves. This is the boy's favorite game-fish, and it is an excellent morsel on the table. An equally beautiful and larger species, abundant in more sluggish waters throughout the same range and westward, is the blue sunfish (L. pallidus). The long-eared sunfish (L. auritus) is distinguishable at once by the long appendage of the gill cover. The spotted sunfish (Enneacanthus gloriosus) is a most beautiful little fish with gracefully flowing fins and brightly spotted translucent body.

A large marine sunfish is the prevailing spe cies (Mola motet) of the plectognath family Motif's. It is almost circular in form, and the dorsal and anal fins project posteriorly, with the caudal between. The posterior part of the

body looks as if it had been cut squarely off and then the tail replaced, and something like this actually happens in the development of the young. On each side, near the centre, is a small pectoral, and in front of it the gill open ing; the gills are-arranged in comb-like fringes. It attains a large size, four or five feet in length and three or four feet in depth, with a weight of several hundred pounds; the flesh is white, tough, of a disagreeable odor, unfit for food, and remarkably elastic, the last prop erty depending on the great amount of yellow elastic fibre, interlaced in an intricate manner, almost to the exclusion of white fibre and mus cle. It is vrayish above and whitish below, with a silvery lustre when alive, and phos phorescent at night, which, with the rounded form, has given rise to a sailor's name, moon fish. It is sluggish in its motions, and is often seen asleep at the surface; when swimming, it is said to turn round like a wheel, and to be able to float with the head and eyes above the surface; the liver is very fat, and its oil is used for lubricating purposes on board ship, and for sprains and bruises among fishermen. Sailors fashion balls from the elastic subdermal tissue. In some seasons it is common in summer in Massachusetts and New York bays, and feeds partly if not principally on medusae or jelly fishes. There is probably no fish more infested by parasites, internally and externally; the flesh and intestines contain many entozoa, and the skin is studded with crustacean parasites. Consult Gunther, 'Introduction of Fishes' (Edinburgh 1880); Bollman, 'Review of Sun fishes' (Reprint, United States Fish Commis sion, Washington 1892) ; Abbott, 'Naturalist's Rambles About Home' (New York 1887); Dean, Bashford, Living and Fossil' (New York 1895).