The bluebarred pygmy sunfish is a striking fish, despite its small size, and is named after the male’s eye-catching iridescent blue stripes (2). Both the male and female bluebarred pygmy sunfish have conspicuous dark, vertical bands along the body (2), but while the males are coloured a brilliant iridescent blue between the bands, the females are a much more drab beige (3). The rest of the body is blue-grey to black in males, depending on reproductive activity, and pinkish-brown in females (3). In addition to having a slightly longer body, the male also has longer pelvic, pectoral and dorsal fins than the female (2).
Species in the genus Elassoma are known as pygmy sunfishes because they were originally thought to belong in the same family as other sunfishes, the Centrarchidae (4). However, they are now considered sufficiently distinct to be classified in their own separate family, the Elassomatidae, and some claim they are not closely related to other sunfish at all (5). The family and generic name derives from the Greek words ‘elasson’, meaning ‘smaller’, and ‘soma’, meaning ‘body’ (6). The specific name of the bluebarred pygmy sunfish derives phonetically from the local Indian words ‘oka’, meaning ‘water’, and ‘ateeh’, meaning ‘coming from’ (2).
- Male length: 21.2 mm (2)
- Female length: 21.0 mm (2)