Sunfish (mola) is found to be the heaviest bony fish in the world. Their shape of the body is similar to that of a bullet. These fishes develop a back fin when they grow and get mature and this gives them this shape. They also develop a rounded rudder known as clavus, when they get mature. The word "Mola" has been taken from the Latin word, which means "millstone". These sunfish have a rough skin texture and are of silver color.
Sunfish General Characteristics
They may grow up to a size of 14 feet (horizontally) and 10 feet (vertically). They weigh nearly about 2,268 kilograms. Sharks and rays can be heavier than these but they belong to cartilaginous fish.
Sunfish Habitat and Behavior
These sunfish can be found mainly in tropical and temperate oceans all over the world. They are most seen lieing in the sun near the surface and most of the time they are mistaken for sharks.These fish has a beak like structure with teeth fused into the beak. Due to this reason, they are not able to completely close their mouths. Ocean sunfish can get affected with the skin parasites. And due to these parasites small fish or even birds get attracted to these fish for feast. These fish can infringe the surface up to 10 feet in the air and land back with a splash. The splashes which they make is an attempt made by them inorder to shake the parasites.
They feed mainly on jellyfish, small fishes, zooplankton and algae. They are considered to be harmless to people, but often approach divers due to their curious nature.
Sunfish Life Cycle
Very less is known about the life cycle of the ocean sunfish. Their life span and growth rate have not been determined in the natural habitat. It has been found that they can live up to 10 years in captivity. The blue fin tuna do not attack on the adult of these species as they have large size and thick skin. But the younger ones of these species are not able to protect themselves from these predators. Adults of these species are eaten by sea lions, orcas and sharks. However, the sea lions appear to hunt sunfish only for sport, tearing the fins off, tossing the body around, and then simply leaving the fish to die on the seafloor. Apart from the life span and growth, even the mating practices of these ocean sunfish are not known by the researchers. Only the spawning areas have been known and that is the North Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Females can lay as many as 300 million eggs at a time. This egg laying capacity of the sunfish is greater than any other known vertebrate. The eggs are released into the water and external fertilization takes place.
Sunfish Fishing Gear
For fishing a sunfish there is no need to use high tech or high cost fishing setup. People have been catching sunfish just with a stick with line tied to it, a hook, and a worm.