Redear sunfish are a positive addition to any fishing pond. Redear generally reach larger sizes than bluegill, do not overpopulate and will prevent grubs by eating the snails that are a host to the grubs. Redear spawn after bass but before bluegill. The spawning season is short lasting only a few weeks, unlike bluegill which spawn all summer. Spawning in the southeast begins in April/May when water temperatures reach 65 degrees and is over relatively quickly.
Males construct saucer shaped nests in shallow water a begin courting females. Females join the male in his nest and lay adhesive eggs in the bottom of the nest. Once the eggs are fertilized the male guards the nest from predators and aerates the eggs with his tail until they hatch. Depending on water temperature eggs hatch in 5 to 7 days. Baby redear remain in the nest for several days before swimming from the nest in schools guarded closely by the male.
Redear are susceptible to nest failures due to fluctuating water temperatures in the early spring. Therefore redear are less abundant than bluegill and should be stocked in combination with bluegill to provide adequate forage for bass.
Baby redear begin feeding on zooplankton then switch to insects by the time they reach 2 inches. The small fingerlings will range in size from 1 inch to 4 inches by fall providing a wide range of forage for bass and crappie. Redear are capable of growing 1/4 pound per year after the first year, reaching average sizes of 1/2 to 3/4 pound with some reaching 1 to 2 pounds if well fed and live long enough. Redear typically reach larger sizes than bluegill.
Redear begin feeding on snails once they reach 4-5 inches using specialized teeth in the back of their mouths to crush the hard shells. Redear do not generally feed on floating feed but will pick up fish food of the bottom of the pond.