The Pumkinseed is part of the Sunfish family ( Eupomotis Gibbosu ).
When water temperatures reach 55-63 degrees F (late spring or early summer), male pumpkinseeds start to build nests to spawn. Spawning sites are generally in shallow water from 6 inches to several feet deep on sand or gravel bottoms. The males use their caudal fins to sweep out shallow, saucer-shaped depressions about twice the length of the fish in diameter (about 4 to 15 inches). The fish remove larger objects like rocks by pulling them out with their mouths.

Females arrive after the nests are completed, coming in from deeper waters. At first the females appear to be chased away from the nest by the males, but after a considerable amount of chasing, the females head toward the nest instead of away from it. Once the female is in the nest, the pair swims in circles side by side, with the bellies of both fish touching. The male then releases milt and the female releases eggs. Females may spawn in more than one nest, and more than one female may use the same nest. Sometimes more than one female will spawn with a male simultaneously. Females produce 1,500 to 1,700 eggs, depending on their size and age.

The small eggs stick to gravel, sand, or debris in the nest, and they hatch in as little as three days at 82.4 degrees F. Females leave the nest immediately after spawning, but males remain and are highly protective, guarding the eggs and fanning them. The newly hatched young are minute and transparent, for some time only the eyes are visible. The male guards them for about the first 11 days, returning them to the nest in his mouth if they try to stray. Fathers may even nip at people’s hands or feet that come close to their nests.

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