Acantharchus pomotis - (Baird, 1855)
Mud Sunfish
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Acantharchus pomotis (Baird, 1855) (TSN 168095)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.106210
Element Code: AFCQB05010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Fishes - Bony Fishes - Sunfishes and Freshwater Basses
Image 104

© Noel Burkhead & Virginia Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries (Fishes of Virginia)

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Actinopterygii Perciformes Centrarchidae Acantharchus
Genus Size: A - Monotypic genus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea, and W.B. Scott. 1991. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 20. 183 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B91ROB01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Acantharchus pomotis
Taxonomic Comments: Monotypic genus. Analysis of variation in meristic and morphometric characters does not support recognition of subspecies in this species (Cashner et al. 1989).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 12Oct2011
Global Status Last Changed: 12Oct2011
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Widespread in Atlantic states from New York to Florida; still present throughout most of the natural range; habitat is not immediately threatened; not used in sport or commercial fisheries.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4N5 (12Oct2011)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S1), Delaware (S2), Florida (S3), Georgia (S3), Maryland (S3), New Jersey (S3), New York (SH), North Carolina (S4), Pennsylvania (SX), Virginia (S3S4)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: This species is widely distributed but uncommon throughout the Atlantic Coastal Plain and lower Piedmont from the Hudson River drainage (New York; at least formerly) to the St. Johns River in northern Florida; it also occurs in Gulf Coastal Plain in northern Florida and southern Georgia from the Suwannee River to St. Marks River, and (disjunctly) in the lower Tombigbee River drainage in Alabama, where apparently it is native (Page and Burr 2011). A hiatus in the range occurs in western Chesapeake Bay tributaries from the Susquehanna to Potomac rivers in Maryland and Virginia (records from the Potomac are erroneous) (Cashner et al. 1989). See Cashner et al. (1989) for further information on distribution and status in particular states.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a large number of occurrences.

Population Size: 100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 10,000 and may exceed 100,000. This species may not appear to be abundant in some areas because of a possible nocturnal activity pattern.

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: No major threats exist at the present time or for the forseeable future. Pollution and habitat modification such as drainage and damming are potential, but not immediate, problems.

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Trend over the past 10 years or three generations probably is relatively stable or slowly declining.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Long-term Trend Comments: Range extent probably has not declined very much over the long term, though the species may be extirpated in New York and Pennsylvania; area of occupancy probably has declined less than 30 percent.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Determine abundance and distribution of EOs.

Protection Needs: Preserve small, heavily vegetated bodies of water that contain EOs.

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) This species is widely distributed but uncommon throughout the Atlantic Coastal Plain and lower Piedmont from the Hudson River drainage (New York; at least formerly) to the St. Johns River in northern Florida; it also occurs in Gulf Coastal Plain in northern Florida and southern Georgia from the Suwannee River to St. Marks River, and (disjunctly) in the lower Tombigbee River drainage in Alabama, where apparently it is native (Page and Burr 2011). A hiatus in the range occurs in western Chesapeake Bay tributaries from the Susquehanna to Potomac rivers in Maryland and Virginia (records from the Potomac are erroneous) (Cashner et al. 1989). See Cashner et al. (1989) for further information on distribution and status in particular states.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, NJ, NY, PAextirpated, VA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Washington (01129)
DE Kent (10001), New Castle (10003), Sussex (10005)
FL Alachua (12001), Baker (12003), Columbia (12023)*, Hamilton (12047), Jefferson (12065)*, Lafayette (12067)*, Leon (12073), Madison (12079), Taylor (12123)*, Union (12125)
GA Appling (13001), Ben Hill (13017), Berrien (13019)*, Brooks (13027)*, Bryan (13029), Chatham (13051), Clinch (13065)*, Evans (13109), Glascock (13125), Jefferson (13163), Jenkins (13165), Lanier (13173), Laurens (13175), Liberty (13179), Long (13183), Lowndes (13185), Tattnall (13267), Toombs (13279)*, Ware (13299), Washington (13303), Wayne (13305)*
MD Caroline (24011), Dorchester (24019), Kent (24029), Queen Annes (24035), Somerset (24039), Wicomico (24045), Worcester (24047)
NY Rockland (36087)*
PA Bucks (42017)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Hackensack-Passaic (02030103)+, Sandy Hook-Staten Island (02030104), Raritan (02030105), Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105), Crosswicks-Neshaminy (02040201)+*, Lower Delaware (02040202), Brandywine-Christina (02040205)+, Cohansey-Maurice (02040206), Broadkill-Smyrna (02040207)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301), Great Egg Harbor (02040302), Chincoteague (02040303)+, Chester-Sassafras (02060002)+, Choptank (02060005)+, Blackwater-Wicomico (02060007), Nanticoke (02060008), Pocomoke (02060009), Chincoteague (02060010), Great Wicomico-Piankatank (02080102), Lower Rappahannock (02080104), Mattaponi (02080105), Pamunkey (02080106), York (02080107), Lynnhaven-Poquoson (02080108), Western Lower Delmarva (02080109)+, Eastern Lower Delmarva (02080110)+, Pokomoke-Western Lower Delmarva (02080111)+, Lower James (02080206), Appomattox (02080207), Hampton Roads (02080208)
03 Roanoke Rapids (03010106), Lower Roanoke (03010107), Nottoway (03010201), Blackwater (03010202), Ghowan (03010203), Meheriin (03010204), Albemarle (03010205), Upper Tar (03020101), Fishing (03020102), Lower Tar (03020103), Pamlico (03020104), Bogue-Core Sounds (03020106), Upper Neuse (03020201), Middle Neuse (03020202), Contentnea (03020203), Lower Neuse (03020204), New (03030001), Upper Cape Fear (03030004), Lower Cape Fear (03030005), Black (03030006), Northeast Cape Fear (03030007), Upper Pee Dee (03040104), Lower Pee Dee (03040201), Lynches (03040202), Lumber (03040203), Little Pee Dee (03040204), Waccamaw (03040206), Carolina Coastal-Sampit (03040207), South Carolina Coastal (03050202), North Fork Edisto (03050203), South Fork Edisto (03050204), Broad-St. Helena (03050208), Middle Savannah (03060106), Brier (03060108), Upper Ogeechee (03060201)+, Lower Ogeechee (03060202)+, Canoochee (03060203)+, Ogeechee Coastal (03060204)+, Lower Oconee (03070102)+, Lower Ocmulgee (03070104)+, Little Ocmulgee (03070105), Altamaha (03070106)+, Satilla (03070201), Little Satilla (03070202)+*, St. Marys (03070204)+, Oklawaha (03080102)+, Waccasassa (03110101), Econfina-Steinhatchee (03110102)+, Aucilla (03110103)+, Upper Suwannee (03110201)+, Alapaha (03110202)+, withlacoochee (03110203)+, Little (03110204)+*, Santa Fe (03110206)+, Apalachee Bay-St. Marks (03120001)+, Lower Ochlockonee (03120003), Middle Flint (03130006), Lower Tambigbee (03160203)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed (based on multiple information sources) Help
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Oblong, freshwater fish, Centrarchidae.
General Description: Body deep, strongly compressed; two dorsal fins, broadly connected to each other, the anterior one having 10-12 spines and the posterior one having 9-13 soft rays; caudal fin rounded; scales cycloid (smooth rear edge); 3-4 parallel black stripes across face and along each side; eyes large, snout short; mouth large, with upper jaw extending below eye; body light to dark green; ear flap with black spot (and orange spot in large individuals); fins clear to dusky olive, with a black edge on the anal fin; 32-45 lateral scales; 20-30 (usually 24-28) scales around caudal peduncle; 4-6 (usually 5) anal spines, 9-11 rays; maximum length around 21 cm (Page and Burr 1991).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from all other sunfishes in having cycloid scales rather than ctenoid scales (the latter have a toothed rear edge); only the green sunfish has 23 or more scales around the caudal peduncle (Page and Burr 1991).
Reproduction Comments: In North Carolina, spawned at temperatures as low as 6 C; females with ripe eggs were found January-May; both sexes reached maturity at age 1+; lifespan is short, 4+ years (Pardue 1993).
Ecology Comments: Relatively sedentary. May exhibit high mortality when swamps shrink and/or dry up. In North Carolina, average standing stock was 351 individuals/ha and 14.7 kg/ha (Pardue 1993).
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, CREEK, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND
Habitat Comments: Habitat is primarily darkly stained, sluggish, weedy lowland creeks, small to medium rivers (including backwaters), ponds, lakes, and swamps, usually with mud, silt, or detritus substrates (Page and Burr 2011).
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: In North Carolina, diet was dominated by invertebrates, especially amphipods, decapods, coleopterans, and odonates; large individuals sometimes ate fishes (Pardue 1993).
Length: 17 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Further investigations into the behavior and ecology of A. pomotis are needed.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Sunfishes (Centrarchids)

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including eggs and larvae) in appropriate habitat.
Separation Barriers: Dam lacking a suitable fishway; high waterfall; upland habitat.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is arbitrary. Although members of this group vary in size and probably in typical movement distances, it is likely that even the smallest centrarchids occasionally disperse as far as do large centrarchids. Hence a single separation distance is used for all members of the family. Because of the difficulty in defining suitable versus unsuitable habitat, especially with respect to dispersal, and to simplify the delineation of occurrences, a single separation distance is used regardless of habitat quality.
Date: 25Jun2001
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: Note that some species some species may at time be hard to detect. For example, nowhere is the Carolina pygmy sunfish known to be abundant. In addition, it is essentially an annual species, with adults dying soon after spawning, at an age of 12-15 months. In addition, young are so small that, for a several months, documentation of the species' presence at a particular locality might be almost impossible, at least without preserving specimens. Therefore, negative data at a known locality should be carefully interpreted (P. Shute).
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 26Dec2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Jackson, D., C. Sahley, and G. Hammerson
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 12Oct2011
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. 2015. Alabam's Wildlife Action Plan 2015-2025. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. Montgomery, Alabama. 514 pages. [Available online at http://www.outdooralabama.com/sites/default/files/AL%20SWAP%20FINAL%20POST-REVIEW%2004-22-2016.pdf}

  • Boschung, H. T., and R. L. Mayden. 2004. Fishes of Alabama. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. 960 pp.

  • Carlson, Douglas M. 1998. Species Accounts for the rare fishes of New York. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources. Bureau of Fisheries, Endangered Fish Project. 95pp.

  • Carlson, Douglas. 1998. Summary of activities relating to management of ETs Fishes (as listed in 1983) from 1995 to present. 5pp.

  • Cashner, R. C., B. M. Burr, and J. S. Rogers. 1989. Geographic variation of the mud sunfish, Acantharchus pomotis (family Centrarchidae). Copeia 1989:129-141.

  • Cooper, E.L. 1983. Fishes of Pennsylvania. Penn State Univ. Press, University Park, PA.

  • Jelks, H. L., S. J. Walsh, N. M. Burkhead, S. Contreras-Balderas, E. Díaz-Pardo, D. A. Hendrickson, J. Lyons, N. E. Mandrak, F. McCormick, J. S. Nelson, S. P. Platania, B. A. Porter, C. B. Renaud, J. Jacobo Schmitter-Soto, E. B. Taylor, and M.L. Warren, Jr. 2008. Conservation status of imperiled North American freshwater and diadromous fishes. Fisheries 33(8):372-407.

  • MANSUETI, R. AND H. J. EISER. 1953. ECOLOGY AND GROWTH OF THE MUD SUNFISH, ACANTHARCHUS POMOTIS IN MARYLAND. COPEIA 1953(2): 117-119.

  • Nelson, J. S., E. J. Crossman, H. Espinosa-Perez, L. T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, and J. D. Williams. 2004. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 29, Bethesda, Maryland. 386 pp.

  • PARDUE, G. B. 1993. LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY OF THE MUD SUNFISH (ACANTHARCHUS POMOTIS). COPEIA 2:533-540.

  • Page, L. M., H. Espinosa-Pérez, L. T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, N. E. Mandrak, R. L. Mayden, and J. S. Nelson. 2013. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Seventh edition. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 34, Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes: North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 432 pp.

  • Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 2011. Peterson field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Second edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. xix + 663 pp.

  • Page, LM, H.Espinoza-Perez, L.Findley, C.Gilbert, R. Lea, N. Mandrak, R.Mayden and J.Nelson. 2013. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, 7th edition. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 34, Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Pardue, G. B. 1993. Life history and ecology of the mud sunfish (Acantharchus pomotis). Copeia 1993:533-540.

  • Rider, S. J. and W. Schell. 2012. First record of Acantharchus pomotis (Mud Sunfish) from Alabama. Southeastern Naturalist 11:145-148.

  • Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea, and W.B. Scott. 1991. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 20. 183 pp.

  • Smith, C. L. 1985. The inland fishes of New York State. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, New York, xi + 522 pp.

  • Smith, C.L. 1985. The Inland Fishes of New York State. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY. 522pp.

References for Watershed Distribution Map
  • Cooper, E. L. 1983. Fishes of Pennsylvania and the northeastern United States. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park. 243 pp.

  • Jenkins, R. E., and N. M. Burkhead. 1994. Freshwater fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland. xxiii + 1079 pp.

  • Lee, D. S., C. R. Gilbert, C. H. Hocutt, R. E. Jenkins, D. E. McAllister, and J. R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, North Carolina. i-x + 854 pp.

  • Marcy, B. C., Jr., D. E. Fletcher, F. D. Martin, M. H. Paller, and M.J.M. Reichert. 2005. Fishes of the middle Savannah River basin. University of Georgia Press, Athens. xiv + 460 pp.

  • Master, L. L. and A. L. Stock. 1998. Synoptic national assessment of comparative risks to biological diversity and landscape types: species distributions. Summary Report submitted to Environmental Protection Agency. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA. 36 pp.

  • Menhinick, E. F. 1991. The freshwater fishes of North Carolina. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. 227 pp.

  • Smith, C. L. 1983. Fishes of New York (maps and printout of a draft section on scarce fishes of New York). Unpublished draft.

  • State Natural Heritage Data Centers. 1996a. Aggregated element occurrence data from all U.S. state natural heritage programs, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, Navajo Nation and the District of Columbia. Science Division, The Nature Conservancy.

  • Straight, C.A., B. Albanese, and B.J. Freeman. [Internet]. [updated 2009 March 25]. Fishes of Georgia Website, Georgia Museum of Natural History; Accessed May 2010. Online. Available from: http://fishesofgeorgia.uga.edu

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