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RE: Sunnie Question

Jeff asked:
> My question is how compatible are Bluegills and Longears together?
> Most of mine are nickel to quarter sized.  I am starting to see some
> aggression between the Longears now. Maybe they are setting up
> territory but none the less I see them chasing each other a bit. I am
> just wondering if I can put them all together for 6-9 months with out
> any real problems? Of course in a decent sized tank, not crammed in a
> small one.

Recently we talked about this very thing on this NANFA list.  I have
some observations to share.  I think the greatest problem will be with
the bluegills, not the longears.  Adult bluegills in aquaria are a
problem, especially males.  The dominant male will usually kill
subordinates, either directly or indirectly (through stress and
disease).  I've seen this happen too many times to write it off as
coincidence.  You'll end up with a single healthy male.

Longears are different.  They still display aggression towards each
other, but it's not lethal.  I have 5 males in a 55-gallon and 3 of them
are mature and have built nests.  The largest male took the best spot
and the other 2 chose open areas in the corners.  As I mentioned in a
previous message, I'm certain one key to their peaceful cohabitation was
in my constructing distinct territories with appropriately placed rocks
and plastic plants.  Unfortunately, there are no females in the tank,
and the males are probably at their most aggressive point right now.
Still, there hasn't been any serious battling, or even fin nipping.  The
nest-protectors will engage in simple displays which involve
short-distance chases (less than a foot) and the intruders will usually
be back in the area within minute or even sooner like nothing happened.
Occasionally they mill about as a group.  Right now the tank temp is 75
degrees and the largest male is constantly cleaning and protecting his
nest.  The others are less interested in maintaining their nests and
seem more interested in observing the dominant male's activities.

So, Jeff, based on my experiences, I don't think your bluegills and
longears will co-exist once they become mature, or even that your
bluegills will do well among themselves, unless you have a very large
tank.  Perhaps someone else can share their own experiences and tips and
prove me wrong.

I had a nice tank once with longear sunfish, redfin shiners, spotfin
shiners, sand shiners and striped shiners.  As long as I kept the
sunfish well-fed he didn't harrass the shiners.   I tried a bluegill in
a similar tank, but he was much less peaceable and I removed him within
a day.  I just don't like bluegills in aquariums, but a guy I know has a
huge male bluegill in a 55-gallon with 2 South American catfish, and
they get along just find.  Perhaps a bullhead or two would be
interesting assuming the bluegills would be OK with the nocturnal habits
of the bullheads. 

Jay DeLong
Olympia, WA