The Lepomis macrochirus, commonly referred to as the Bluegill, is a freshwater fish. It is also known as brim or bream, connernose, and sunny – since it is part of the sunfish family.
In aquariums and fish tanks, Bluegill can often act in a predatory fashion. So, let’s look at some of the fish varieties that you can keep with your Bluegill.
What Aquarium Fish Can Live With Bluegill?
Bluegills are thorough omnivores and they will devour just about anything that can easily fit in their mouths. Their natural diet consists of small fish and insects such as dragonflies that float on the surface of water bodies such as shallow lakes and creaks.
Plus, these Bluegill fishes can typically reach a size of 12 inches – their average size range is from 4 to 12 inches. They also prefer cooler water than most aquarium fish. So, if you plan on keeping Bluegills in a fish tank, your best bet is to keep them with other fish that are naturally found in their usual habitat. Fish like Bullheads, other varieties of Sunfish, Bass, etc., will make for good tank companions for your Bluegills.
However, make sure that your tank size is large enough (at least 100 gallons) to imitate the natural setting and has ample hiding spots, like aquarium vegetation.
This will protect your Bluegills from being eaten since most of the fish that Bluegills share their natural habitat with tend to get bigger than them. It will also prevent them from targeting smaller fish such as Minnows that coexist with them.
Fishes to Keep with Young Bluegill
If you have a young Bluegill living in a 55 or 75-gallon fish tank, then you can try to introduce it with mixed-species, such as Ambloplites, Poxomis, Ameiurus, and smaller Micropterus.
This works and this is how young Bluegills live in the wild.
Fishes to Keep with Adult Bluegill
If you have an adult Bluegill, then it’s best to keep it in a large tank with 5 or 6 other Bluegills only since adults can get a bit territorial and drive away or injure other fish varieties.
Keeping a Bluegill in a tank in a Lepomis family will curb its aggressive nature. However, make sure that you don’t keep two adult Bluegills in a small tank since the close proximity will aggravate their aggressive tendencies.
You can also keep bottom-feeders such as Plecos (Suckermouth Catfish) with your Bluegills. Plecos will take care of the algae that will form in your tank and keep it clean. As plecos can reach a size of 15-20 inches, you won’t have to worry about your Bluegills attacking or trying to eat them.
Common Acts of Aggression Exhibited by Bluegills
Keeping wild, predatory fish in a fish tank with other species of fish is not a simple task.
Bluegills are naturally territorial species of fish, and this nature is only exacerbated when they have established dominance in a habitat – your fish tank, in this instance – and an outsider is put in to live amongst them.
There are three common signs of aggression that an unhappy Bluegill might exhibit.
Fin nipping is the least damaging and most frequently occurring form of aggression that your Bluegill might exhibit. It tends to happen when you place smaller fish species in your Bluegill tank. Bluegills will bully and drive away the smaller fish by nipping their fins.
Descaling occurs when you replace your Bluegills from a smaller tank and introduce it into a larger one. A new territory might make your bluegill uncomfortable, and it will either hide out in a corner or start attacking the fish nearby. Descaling also occurs when a new, outsider fish is introduced into their existing tank. They can get pretty territorial and start descaling the outsider!
Fin laceration also occurs due to the two reasons mentioned above – the introduction of your Bluegill into a new tank or introduction of an outsider fish into the existing tank of your bluegill. However, at times, this aggressive and territorial behavior can be curtailed when the new tank is large enough for all the fish to find their own space.
So, if you want your bluegills to live with other fish varieties or in small Lepomis colonies, then the best thing to do would be to get a large fish tank for them to peacefully live with each other. A 100 or 250-gallon tank, depending on the number and size of the Bluefish, is recommended.
Also, make sure that you don’t grow small Bluegills in a smaller tank with the thought of transferring them into larger fish tanks when they grow in size. This will only promote fighting amongst your Bluegills and you will probably end up with a dead fish or two.
How Can You Keep Wild Bluegills Happy and Healthy in an Aquarium?
Although they are native to North America, they have steadily been introduced in ponds and rivers all across the US. These freshwater game fish tend to breed in shallow sections of lakes and rivers when the temperature of the water reaches 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, if you want your aquarium-bound Bluegills to spawn and thrive, you need to keep the water temperature between 60 to 80 degrees only.
Here are a few things that you need to take care of to keep your Bluegills happy in your fish tank.
Juvenile bluegills’ diet comprises of water fleas and rotifers, while the adult Bluegills eat water bug larvae (mayflies, dragonflies, and caddisflies) as well as snails, leeches, crayfish, and other small fish.
If food is insufficient, Bluegill will also munch on underwater plants or will even devour their own offspring and eggs!
So, you need to make sure that you are feeding them sufficient live prey. Feed them once or twice during the day with foods like shrimp, bloodworms, earthworms, wingless fruit flies, and crickets. You also need to feed them high-quality pellets or flakes to keep them satisfied.
Quantity of Bluegills in a Tank
The best way to keep Bluegills is in groups, as in their natural habitat, these fish tend to shoal in groups or schools of 10 to 30 individuals.
These schools might also include other varieties of panfish, such as Pumpkinseeds, Crappie, and Smallmouth Bass.
However, you can start with 5 or 6 Bluegills in a large tank with other similar-sized native fish.
Bluegills tend to grow quite slowly, so we would recommend that you get a young Bluegill from its natural habitat. Select a large aquarium to keep your Bluegills in.
Any tank smaller than 75 gallons is too small space for one adult Bluegill to live in because Bluegills can reach a size of 12 inches, are territorial, and are habitual of roaming freely in large bodies of water with ample hiding spaces in shallow corners.
Bluegills like a tank with ample space and plenty of covers – plants, driftwood, rocks, etc. – as they can then claim on certain tank areas. Once they have established specific territories within a tank, they will be less likely to drive away newer additions to your tank.
Your Bluegill tank also needs to be well-filtered, oxygenated, and clean. You need to connect a hang-on or some other type of filter to your Bluegill aquarium to uphold optimal water quality.
To keep your tank clean and algae-free, you can also put in some large-sized bottom feeders that your Bluegills will likely leave alone. Also, don’t forget to regularly change the water in your tank.
Your tank should also have limited bright lighting so that it imitates your fish’s natural setting.
Tank Water pH Levels
Bluegills prefer a neutral pH of 7.0. The adult Bluegills are quite hardy and can tolerate slightly acidic water; however, juvenile Bluegills do not grow to their full size in acidic water.
A good tip is to utilize the uncomplicated dip-and-read pH test kit to check the alkalinity and acidity in your aquarium and then use a booster agent to alter the pH level if need be.
When kept in aquariums or fish tanks, Bluegills can often act in a predatory manner.
Hence, you can’t really keep other varieties of fish with them. It’s best to only keep them with other native fish that can survive in the same environment as them.
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