I live in an area of transition between two subspecies of the Spotted Sunfish (Lepomis punctatus). To the east of me the Spotted Sunfish (L. punctatus punctatus) predominates and to the west of me the Spotted Sunfish (L. punctatus miniatus), often referred to as the Redspotted Sunfish, predominates. The Redspotted Sunfish supposedly does not have any dark spots on its sides, though will have some dark spots on the operculum or gill cover. As its nick name indicates, the Redspotted Sunfish will have much red on the sides of the males. Both subspecies will have a beautiful turquoise blue crescent on the lower edge of the eye.
Here is a Spotted Sunfish I caught while in southern Florida, along the Tamiami Canal adjacent to the Everglades about a month ago.
And here is a Redpotted Sunfish I caught yesterday while fishing the tannin stained water of the Fish River, here in Baldwin County, Alabama. This fish has only a very few dark spots on its side, but shows clearly the deeply melanistic character of fish taken from these southern “black” waters. I think this guy is striking!