Pumpkinseed Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: November 26, 2022

The pumpkinseed is a beautiful and popular freshwater fish that is native to North America. They’re a hardy species that can adapt to a variety of different water conditions, which makes them a great choice for beginner fishkeepers.

Pumpkinseeds are also a very popular fish for fishing bait, so you might’ve seen them before even if you don’t have a fish tank.

But if you’re thinking about getting pumpkinseeds for your aquarium, there are a few things you need to know first. In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about pumpkinseed care.

Species overview

The pumpkinseed (scientific name: Lepomis gibbosus) is a freshwater fish that’s native to Northeastern America.

They prefer habitats with a lot of vegetation, such as marshes, ponds, and lakes. This is because they primarily eat insects and other small invertebrates that live among the plants.

Pumpkinseeds are a popular choice for aquariums and ponds because they’re relatively easy to care for and are very tolerant of a wide range of water conditions.

They’re also a popular choice because of their bright colors. Male pumpkinseeds have bright red breasts, while females are usually more drab in color.



The Pumpkinseed is a small and colorful freshwater fish. As the name would suggest, these fish are a deep orange color. The orange is broken up by a dark band that runs from their snout all the way to the base of their tail.

This dark band is widest at the base of the Pumpkinseed’s dorsal fin.

The Pumpkinseed has a long and thin body that tapers off at the end. They have a small mouth that’s usually filled with algae and other plant matter.

Their fins are all fairly small and unremarkable. The dorsal fin is short and starts about two-thirds of the way back on their body. The anal fin is a bit longer and starts closer to the middle.

The caudal fin is forked and symmetrical.

Pumpkinseeds have a small but noticeable scale pattern. These fish are also known to have a bright orange spot behind each of their eyes.


The pumpkinseed sunfish has a lifespan of about 4 years. However, captive pumpkinseeds have been known to live up to 9 years.

Pumpkinseeds in the wild have a number of predators. This includes larger fish, birds, and mammals. As a result, they don’t usually live very long.

In captivity, however, they’re much less likely to be eaten by predators. They also don’t have to worry about things like finding food and shelter. As a result, they can live much longer in captivity than they can in the wild.


The average pumpkinseed sunfish size is between 4 and 8 inches. Some pumpkinseeds have been known to grow up to 12 inches long, but this is quite rare. Most pumpkinseeds that are kept as pets will only grow to be about 6 inches in length.


Tank Size

The minimum tank size for keeping pumpkinseed sunfish is 30 gallons. If you’re looking for a smaller freshwater fish that can fit in an average-sized tank, this is a good option.

Pumpkinseed sunfish are also a good option for beginner fishkeepers because they’re relatively hardy and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions.

Water Parameters

The pumpkinseed is a freshwater fish that is found in North America. It is a popular fish to keep in aquariums and can be found in many pet stores.

Pumpkinseeds prefer to live in water that is clean and has a moderate flow. They also prefer water that is on the cooler side, between 68 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pumpkinseed is a hardy fish and can live in a variety of water conditions. However, it is important to maintain consistent water parameters to ensure the health of your fish.

  • Water Temperature: 68-74 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH Levels: 6.5-7.5
  • Water Hardness: 4-20 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

When it comes to the inside of their tank, there are a few key things that you should include.

Pumpkinseeds are a type of sunfish, which means they like to spend time near the surface. This is why it’s important to have some floating plants in their habitat.

Not only do the plants provide them with some shelter, but it also gives them a place to lay their eggs (if you’re planning on breeding them).

Java moss is a great choice for this since it can attach to driftwood and rocks. Anacharis is another option, but it has a tendency to grow quickly and might need to be trimmed back on occasion.

You’ll also want to include some hiding spots in their tank. This can be anything from caves to driftwood. Rocks stacked on top of each other can work too.

Pumpkinseeds like to have a little bit of vegetation in their diet, so we recommend adding some plants to their tank. Hornwort, water wisteria, and Java fern are all great choices.

Finally, the substrate in their tank can be either sand or gravel.

Common Diseases

Pumpkinseeds are a hardy fish, but they can still succumb to disease if the water conditions in their tank are poor. The most common disease that these fish experience is ich.

Ich is a very common parasite that can become quite serious if it’s not dealt with. The most obvious sign of this disease is the series of white spots that will begin to cover the body of your fish.

There are plenty of other potential diseases that can affect this species as well, but they’re not as common.

Another thing to look out for is infection from cuts. The most common cause of this is keeping your Pumpkinseed in a tank with a rough substrate (or aggressive species that want to fight).

In general, the best way to prevent these fish from getting sick is to maintain the quality of the water in their tank. A tank with clean and stable water conditions always leads to healthier fish who are more resistant to disease.

Behavior & Temperament

Pumpkinseeds are one of the friendliest fish you’ll find. They’re outgoing, interactive, and love to play. Even when they’re not with others of their own kind, they’ll often approach humans and other animals in their environment to check them out.

Pumpkinseeds are also known to be very curious. They’ll often swim to the surface of the water to see what’s going on. This makes them one of the more entertaining fish to watch.

In terms of temperament, Pumpkinseeds are very peaceful. They’re not known to be aggressive and will often coexist with other fish without any problems.

Tank Mates

Pumpkinseeds are relatively peaceful and can get along with most community tank mates.

However, there are a few things to consider before adding them to your tank.

First, these fish are native to North America. As a result, they prefer cooler water temperatures than most tropical fish. You’ll need to provide a temperature-controlled aquarium if you want to keep them happy and healthy.

Secondly, Pumpkinseeds are known to be nippers. They’re not aggressive, but they might nibble on the fins of other fish.

To avoid any potential problems, it’s best to avoid pairing them with long-finned or slow-moving fish.

Some good Pumpkinseed tank mates include:

  • Tetras
  • Danios
  • Barbs
  • Rainbows
  • Gouramis
  • Corydoras Catfish


Pumpkinseeds are one of the easier fish to breed in captivity. They typically start spawning in the spring, but you can trigger it earlier with the right water conditions.

Pumpkinseeds prefer to lay their eggs in areas with lots of vegetation. So, you’ll need to add some plants to the breeding tank. You can use live or artificial plants. Just make sure that the plants are safe for the fry to hide in.

Pumpkinseeds are also known to eat their eggs. So, you’ll need to take steps to prevent that from happening. One way to do that is to add a layer of peat moss to the bottom of the tank. The moss will release tannins into the water, which will make the water more acidic. That will discourage the adults from eating the eggs.

Another way to protect the eggs is to use a mesh breeder box. This box will allow the eggs to fall through the holes, but it will prevent the adults from getting to them.

When everything is set up, you can add the adults to the tank. It’s best to start with two males for every female.

The males will start to establish territories and build nests. Once the females are ready to lay eggs, they will do so in the nests.

It usually takes about a week for the eggs to hatch. After they hatch, you can remove the adults from the tank. The fry will feed on microscopic creatures in the water. You can supplement their diet with baby brine shrimp or crushed-up flake food.

As they grow, you can gradually increase the size of the food that you’re giving them.


Pumpkinseeds are one of our all-time favorite freshwater fish. They’re beautiful, active, and relatively easy to care for.

We love their vibrant colors and their fun personalities. They’re great fish for beginners and experienced aquarists alike.

If you’re looking for a new fish to add to your tank, we highly recommend the pumpkinseed!