How to Tell Bluegill and Sunfish – Bluegill VS Sunfish

By Last Updated: January 10th, 2023Categories: Fishing

There are over 32,000 fish species in the world that are found in the sea and freshwater. And it’s not surprising to see highly identical fishes. Well, they are not twins! They’re two different spices that just happen to look like each other, like Bluegill and Sunfish.

While this phenomenon is interesting, it can be a bit of a problem for fishermen and people who study fisheries. If you’re interested in knowing the difference between Bluegill and Sunfish, continue reading this page.

What is Bluegill?

Bluegill fish is a freshwater fish, it is usually found in lakes, ponds, lagoons, quiet creeks, and other water reservoirs. Another name for Bluegill is Lepomis macrochirus, but some anglers call it bream, copper nose, or sunny’s.

What is Bluegill

This fish is known for its deep-bodied look of panfish. Some anglers can recognize it immediately just by the color. But the colors of a Bluegill vary and are different in every fish. Some have shades of light green and copper, some are purple and brown. The color difference is caused by the water quality, diet, location, etc.

You can easily spot a Bluegill by looking at its dorsal fin, the vertical bars on its sides, and its relatively small mouth. You can also see a dark-colored ear covering their dorsal fin. This is what distinguishes Bluegill from other fishes in its group. It’s fascinating.

What is Sunfish?

Sunfish (Centrarchidae) is not a specific type of fish, it is a whole family with almost 34 fish species. Pretty cool right? Many Sunfish species share the same physical characteristics, like the size of their mouth, body color, the position of the eye, and more.

What is Sunfish

Here are some of the most popular ones;

  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Rock bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Green Sunfish

Sunfish species have deep bodies and compressed appearances. At first glance, they look like slimy dark round pancakes. Their color also differs, it depends on the water quality, diet, and more.

Bluegill vs Sunfish – What’s the Difference?

All Bluegills are Sunfish but not all Sunfish are Bluegills. I know that sounds like a riddle, so let me clear it out. Now, I mentioned above that Sunfish is a family of fish species and among those species is Bluegills. To make it short, Bluegills is a type of Sunfish.

Check this table for a detailed comparison of Bluegill vs Sunfish.




Origin/Terminology Refers to a group/family of fish species. A particular type of fish within the Sunfish family.
Appearance Each species of Sunfish has its different color and features (silver, brown, and white). Consists of a dark spot at the end of the dorsal fin and a dark ear covering.
Size Differs for each species. Their sizes range between 4 inches to over 10 inches. 12 inches long and weigh as much as 4 ½ pounds.
Taste and Texture Different varieties have slightly varying tastes and textures. Mild, clean, and slightly sweet taste with firm meat.

Always remember, if you catch Bluegill, that means you also caught a Sunfish. However, if you catch a Sunfish, that doesn’t mean you have caught Bluegill.

Now that you know the difference between these two amazing fishes, its now time to prepare your fishing equipment, or for the newbies, better get your fishing license and learn the basics like how to string a fishing pole. And after that, you are ready for your fishing trip!

Final Thoughts

Fishes are an important part of our ecosystem. So let’s protect them and not abuse the abundance.


Spring and early summer is the best time to catch bluegills because they gather in the shallows to spawn, become very aggressive, and are easy to catch.

The Siamese Algae Eaters are not picky about the type of algae that they eat. Rest assured that they will keep your pond clean. But of course, you shouldn’t rely on fish to clean your pond. You still have to remove some debris and dirt yourself.

Bluegills that are around 6 to 8 inches should have enough meat for consumption. It should also be pretty easy to clean.