Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Lepomis gulosus



Lepomis gulosus (warmouth)


  • Last modified
  • 06 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Threatened Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Lepomis gulosus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • warmouth
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Actinopterygii
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • L. gulosus is a freshwater fish native to North America. It was introduced outside of its native range to western USA and parts of the Atlantic slope in the late 19th and early 20th century (

  • Principal Source
  • Draft datasheet under review

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Lepomis gulosus (warmouth); artwork of adult fish.
TitleArtwork of adult fish
CaptionLepomis gulosus (warmouth); artwork of adult fish.
Copyright©Duane Raver/US Fish and Wildlife Service/ - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Lepomis gulosus (warmouth); artwork of adult fish.
Artwork of adult fishLepomis gulosus (warmouth); artwork of adult fish.©Duane Raver/US Fish and Wildlife Service/ - CC BY-NC 3.0 US


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Lepomis gulosus (Cuvier, 1829)

Preferred Common Name

  • warmouth

Other Scientific Names

  • Choenobryttus gulosus Large 1903
  • Pomotis gulosus Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1829

International Common Names

  • English: goggle-eye; Indian fish; molly; mo-mouth; morgan; mud bass; mudgapper; open mouth; openmouth; redeye; red-eyed bream; rock bass; strawberry perch; stump knocker; warmouth; warmouth bass; weed bass; wood bass
  • Spanish: chopa negra; chope prieta; mojarra golosa

Local Common Names

  • Denmark: stormundet solaborre
  • Finland: marmoriaurinkoahven

Summary of Invasiveness

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L. gulosus is a freshwater fish native to North America. It was introduced outside of its native range to western USA and parts of the Atlantic slope in the late 19th and early 20th century (USGS NAS, 2015). Possible impacts associated with this species’ introduction are competition and hybridization with other Centrarchidae, as well as predation and competition with other native fish species; however, there appears to be little record of the impacts this species has had on invaded regions.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Actinopterygii
  •                     Order: Perciformes
  •                         Suborder: Percoidei
  •                             Family: Centrarchidae
  •                                 Genus: Lepomis
  •                                     Species: Lepomis gulosus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Lepomis is from the Greek for ‘scaled gill cover’; gulosus is from Latin, meaning ‘large-mouthed’ (Pflieger, 1975).


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L. gulosus has a deep, laterally compressed body. Adults are olive-coloured with mottled sides and wavy lines on the cheek and gold-coloured on the ventral side (Etnier, 1993). The gill flaps are often red and there are 3-5 reddish-brown streaks radiating from the eyes (Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2015). L. gulosus has 3 anal spines and 10 dorsal spines (Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2015). This fish ranges in length from 10 to 30 cm. The mouth is terminal and large. The upper jaw extends to the middle of the eye or farther, with their lower jaw protruding noticeably beyond the upper jaw (Mettee et al., 1996). L. gulosus has a well-developed pad of lingual teeth and patches of teeth on the palatine bones (Ross, 2001).


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L. gulosus is native to the Mississippi River and Great Lakes basins from western Pennsylvania to Minnesota, south to the Gulf Coast; to the Atlantic and Gulf drainages from Rappahannock River, Virginia, and to Rio Grande, Texas and New Mexico (Page and Burr, 1991). It is native but considered rare in southwestern Ontario, Canada (Crossman et al., 1996). L. gulosus has been introduced widely in western USA, including the lower Colorado River drainage and portions of Atlantic slope, as well as parts of Puerto Rico (USGS NAS, 2015).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-OntarioLocalisedNative Not invasive
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-ArizonaPresentIntroducedMinckley, 1973
-ArkansasPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedSmith, 1896; Shebley, 1917; Evermann and Clark, 1931; Lampman, 1946; Lanse, 1965; Moyle, 1976; Dill and Cordone, 1997; Sommer et al., 2001; Matern et al., 2002
-ColoradoPresentIntroducedEllis, 1914; Beckman, 1952; Zuckerman and Behnke, 1986
-DelawarePresentIntroducedLee et al., 1976; Lee et al., 1981
-FloridaWidespreadNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-GeorgiaWidespreadNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-IdahoPresentIntroducedSmith, 1896; Lampman, 1946; Linder, 1963; Simpson and Wallace, 1978
-IllinoisPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-IndianaPresentIntroducedNelson and Gerking, 1968
-IowaPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-KansasPresentNativeCross, 1967; USGS, 2015
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedBurr and Warren, 1986
-LouisianaPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-MarylandPresentIntroducedLee et al., 1976; Lee et al., 1981; Starnes et al., 2011
-MinnesotaPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-MissouriPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-New MexicoPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-New YorkPresentIntroducedHocutt et al., 1986; Schmidt, 1986
-North CarolinaPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-OhioPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-OklahomaPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-OregonPresentIntroducedLampman, 1946
-PennsylvaniaPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-South CarolinaPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-TexasPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-VirginiaPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedSmith, 1896; Lampman, 1946
-WisconsinPresentNative Not invasive USGS, 2015

Central America and Caribbean

Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988

History of Introduction and Spread

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L. gulosus was intentionally introduced to western USA and parts of the Atlantic slope in the late 19th century and early 20th century (USGS NAS, 2015).


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Puerto Rico USA 1916 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes Welcomme (1988)


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Within its native range, L. gulosus is mainly found in slow-moving or still waters with a soft substrate and dense beds of submerged, floating, or emergent aquatic vegetation or other dense cover such as stumps, brush or boulders (Larimore, 1957; Cross, 1967; Pflieger, 1975).
In California, where L. gulosus has been introduced, they are found in similar habitats, where there is abundant vegetation and other cover in warm, turbid, muddy-bottomed sloughs and backwaters. However, it is also found in cool, fluctuating reservoirs where salmonids predominate (Moyle, 1976). In southeast USA, L. gulsosus is also found in marshes and swamps.

Habitat List

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Irrigation channels Present, no further details Natural
Lakes Principal habitat Natural
Reservoirs Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Natural
Ponds Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Estuaries Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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L. gulosus has a diploid (2n) chromosome number of 48 and haploid/gametic (n) of 24 (Arkhipchuk, 1999).

Reproductive Biology

The species typically spawns in early spring, when temperatures are around 21 degrees C (Ross, 2001); however, the breeding season can begin in March and can run until September, and fish may spawn two or more times a season (Laerm and Freeman, 1986). The male creates a bowl-shape nest built on gravel or rock in very dense cover in the shallows near the water’s edge (Larimore, 1957; Laerm and Freeman 1986). During spawning the female will release up to 63,200 eggs. Once spawning is completed, the male guards the nest until the fry leave (Laerm and Freeman, 1986).

Physiology and Phenology

L. gulousus is often found in turbid water and has been recorded as having a higher occurrence in turbid waters (Larimore, 1957).


L. gulosus lives for about 3 years (Larimore, 1957; Edwards, 1997).

Activity Patterns

L. gulosus is typically a non-migratory species, traveling no more than 100 miles or so for spawning or wintering (West, 2009). The fish is an ambush predator, hiding and then quickly darting out to capture unsuspecting prey (Edwards, 1997).


It tends to eat small fishes, crayfish, larval aquatic insects and isopods (Layzer and Clady, 1991).


L. gulosus is known to be a host for a number of species including Gyrodactylus macrochiri (Harris et al., 2004); Posthodiplostomum minimum, Proteocephelus ambloplites, Camallanus oxycephalus, Illinobdella moorei, Trematoda (Allacanthocasmus varius, Homalometron pearsei, Crepidostomum cormutum, Pisciamphistoma stunkardi, Posthodiplostomum minimum); Cestoda (Proteocephalus sp.); Nematoda (Cammalanus oxycephalus, Capillaria catenata, Contracaecum spiculigerum, Contracaecum sp., Spinitectus carolini, Spinitectus gracilis, Agamonema sp.); and Acanthocephala (Leptorhynchoides thecatus, Neoechinorhynchus cylindritus, Pallisentis sp. (Arnold, 1967).

Environmental Requirements

L. gulosus is a demersal freshwater species requiring a pH range of 7.0 - 7.5. Adults are able to survive extremely low dissolved oxygen (DO) levels for short periods, and have survived DO concentrations of 1.0 mg/l in the laboratory (Gould and Irwin, 1965), 0.7 to 1.3 mg/l in a lake when allowed access to the surface (Baker, 1941), and 0.3 mg/l for a short time in laboratory experiments (Larimore, 1957). The temperature requirements of adult L. gulosus are not well known, but individuals have been found at temperatures as high as 33.9° C (Carver, 1967). 

Natural Food Sources

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Food SourceLife StageContribution to Total Food Intake (%)Details
Crayfish All Stages
Fish Adult
Invertebrates All Stages
Plankton Fry


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Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 4 Harmful
Salinity (part per thousand) 1 4 Optimum
Salinity (part per thousand) 17 Harmful
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 22 28 Optimum

Notes on Natural Enemies

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L. gulosus is eaten by turtles, herons, fish and water snakes.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

L. gulosus is typically a non-migratory species, traveling no more than 100 miles or so for spawning or wintering (West, 2009). There are no records or reports of natural dispersal of this species to new areas.

Accidental Introduction

L. gulosus is thought to have been accidentally stocked as a contaminate with either bluegill L. macrochirus or bass Micropterus sp. (Minckley, 1973).

Intentional Introduction

L. gulosus was introduced as a sports fish and for food to western USA and parts of the Atlantic slope in the late 19th century and early 20th century (USGS NAS, 2015). It has also been released from aquariums.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
AquacultureSee distribution table and list Yes Yes
FisheriesSee distribution table and list Yes Yes
Hunting, angling, sport or racingSee distribution table and list Yes Yes
Intentional releaseSee distribution table and list Yes Yes
Pet tradeSee distribution table and list Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aquaculture stockSee distribution table and list Yes Yes
Pets and aquarium speciesSee distribution table and list Yes Yes

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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In the early 20thcentury, L. gulosus was a commercial fish in North Carolina, USA (Larimore, 1957). Generally though, it is considered more of a sports fish. As such, anglers who seek this species contribute to the regional economy of areas with fishable populations through the purchase of fishing licenses and through tourism. Recreational fishing and tourism may create a demand not only for food, accommodation and transportation, but also for related recreational activities such as camping and boating. All of these activities may provide economic incomes.

Environmental Impact

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L. gulosus is known to hybridize with at least four other Lepomis spp., including L. cyanellus and L. macrochirus. It also hybridizes with Micropterus salmoides and Pomoxis nigromaculatus (Merriner, 1971; Lee, 1980), as well as competing directly with other Lepomis species for macroinvertebrates. Although potential impacts of warmouth introductions have been proposed, there is little record of the actual impacts this species has had on invaded regions.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
  • Highly mobile locally
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Conflict
  • Negatively impacts aquaculture/fisheries
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - smothering
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Hybridization
  • Predation
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field


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Economic Value

L. gulosus is an important recreational fish species, and its economic importance comes from its popularity as food and as a small sports fish, especially for cane-pole fishermen (Larimore, 1957). 

Uses List

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  • Laboratory use
  • Pet/aquarium trade

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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L. gulosus is often misidentified as the green sunfish, Lepomis cyanellus. L. cyanellus can be distinguished from L. gulosus by the presence of dark bars on the cheek and a tooth patch on the tongue.

L. gulosus may also be confused with rock bass, Ambloplites rupestris, from which it differs in having 3 anal spines, rather than the 5-6 anal spines of A. rupestris (Ross 2001).

Prevention and Control

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Public Awareness

There is not much awareness on the introductions of L. gulosus in North America, as it was stocked legally there. L. gulosus is no longer stocked and it is illegal to buy or sell game fish in most states, which has limited any further introductions (USGS NAS, 2015); however, L. gulosus is reported to be stocked illegally. In New Jersey, USA, anglers are required to destroy and report any captured individuals to the Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries.


As established populations of L. gulosus can be very difficult and costly to control, further stocking and introductions should be avoided.

Chemical Control

The only effective method of fish eradication is the application of rotenone, a piscicide that is also toxic to non-target species.

Monitoring and Surveillance (Incl. Remote Sensing)

Both acoustic telemetry and radio telemetry can be used.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Currently very little effort is being put into managing L. gulosus as an invasive species, even though it has been reported as a potentially dangerous fish in some areas of its introduction. In Canada, L. gulosus is listed for protection as a species of 'special concern', as populations have been declining (COSEWIC, 2005). Although potential impacts of L. gulosus introductions have been suggested, there is little record of the impacts this species has had on invaded regions. Therefore, it seems there is little evidence for gearing management effort towards L. gulosus, as their relative impact is much smaller compared with other introduced species.


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Principal Source

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Draft datasheet under review


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28/02/15 Original text by:

Michael Godard, consultant, Canada

Distribution Maps

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