Body shape : Deep-bodied, much less laterally compressed than the sunfish
Average size : 20 to 38 cm ( 8 to 15 in), 250 g to 1 kg (9 oz to 2 lb)
Coloration : Varies according to habitat; dark with contrasting markings in dark or clear, weedy water; lighter with less pronounced markings in turbid water. Golden brown to green back; paler and more golden flanks with 8 to 15 darker stripes (more pronounced in younger fish) and small golden flecks visible on most scales; eyes usually red or orange; dark stripes radiating from the eye to the edge of the operculum; caudal fin of young fish orange at the base, followed by dark band and then white at the extremity.
External characteristics : Large head and eyes, relatively wide mouth but upper jaw not extending beyond the eye; numerous tiny teeth; 2 joined dorsal fins, the first with 10 robust spines of varying lengths and the second soft-rayed; pelvic fins located on the thorax, almost directly beneath pectoral fins and joined by a membrane; anal fin with 3 spines; caudal fin moderately forked.