List of Perch Species (ID + Pictures)

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True perch
True perches include species in the genus Perca and can be identified by their black stripes and double dorsal fins. Gilles San Martin, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The common name “perch” may refer to a handful of true perches and perch-like species. This group of fish is made up of generally large, robust fish that can be edible. In many countries, perches and their relatives sustain huge commercial fishing industries, local communities as food fish, and serve as prey items for larger fish species. As a sportfish, perches provide an exciting experience for anglers worldwide. In some areas, they may be an introduced nuisance species that places pressure on native fish. Regardless of where they are from, perches play an influential role in their ecosystem and the lives of humans.

There are only three species of “true perch,” which includes species in the genus Perca. Conversely, there are thousands of species in the order of Perciformes, which contains the true perches and all perch-like fish. Additionally, several unrelated species are referred to by anglers as perches. Therefore, this list will focus on some remarkable species around the globe with “perch” in the common name as well as the three species of true perch.

True perches are characterized by double dorsal fins and black stripes along the sides of their bodies. They are schooling fish with large mouths that allow them to eat big prey items. Most perches, even perch-like fish, are freshwater fishes, although perch-like species are found in just about every aquatic ecosystem. All perches are predatory and may consume some combination of fish, invertebrates, and mollusks during their lives. However, significantly few perch-like species consume plant materials.

1) European perch (Perca fluviatilis)

European perch underwater
European perch are long-lived fish, with an average lifespan of 21 years. Alexis / CC BY 4.0

Native to Europe and northern Asia. Introduced to Australia, South Africa, and some parts of Europe

European perches are found throughout Europe and northern Asia. Their broad range is attributed to their tolerance for various habitat types, from freshwater lakes and rivers to slightly brackish estuaries. The European perch has a greenish-yellow back with dark, vertical bars along its sides. On average, they are around 10 inches (25 cm) long. Compared to other small sportfish of similar size, like bluegills or green sunfish, European perch are long-lived, with a maximum life expectancy of 21 years.

They are opportunistic hunters with a diet consisting of insects, crustaceans, and other fish. Gobies (order: Gobiiformes) make up most of their diet. They regularly form schools and can be fished in high numbers, which allows anglers to catch many delicious European perch in one area. When fishing for European perch, blood worms, earthworms, and small fish species are ideal bait. European perch are also farmed as a source of food, a practice that helps sustain local communities.

This species is not of conservation concern.

2) Balkhash perch (Perca schrenkii)

Balkhash perch
Balkhash perch are native to a few countries in Europe and Asia, and often reach lengths of around 16 inches. Photo from

Native to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and China

Native to only a few countries in Asia and Eurasia, the Balkhash perch can be found in various lakes and large rivers but are most well-known from Lake Balkash and Lake Alakol. These large fish are true perches belonging to the genus Perca. They predate primarily upon fish but also consume insect larvae, mainly when they are young. The spotted stone loach (Barbatula barbatula) comprises the bulk of the Balkhash’s diet in areas where they both occur. Individuals regularly reach 16 inches (41 cm) in length, making them bountiful specimens to capture and cook.

They spawn annually in the spring. Then, depending on the population, they form schools to spawn in either freshwater or saltwater. Eggs are deposited into submerged vegetation and are surrounded by a jelly-like film that allows the eggs to stick to aquatic plants.

Balkhash perch have white, flaky flesh with few bones making them an excellent food fish and a popular sportfish. While their numbers have declined within the last 100 years, Balkhash perch are abundant and not of conservation concern.

3) Yellow perch (Perca flavescens)

Yellow perch
The yellow perch is a sport fish that can be found throughout most of Canada and the northeastern US. Patrick Jackson / CC BY 4.0

Native to parts of North America

This small yet trendy sport fish is a great-tasting Great Lakes native. Luckily, they occur in large schools, so they can be caught in abundance despite their small size, which maxes out at 4 pounds (1.8 kgs) 14 inches (35.6 cm). Additionally, their quantity and small size make them an important food source for predators, including large sunfish and birds.

The native range of the yellow perch extends as far south as Louisiana and north into Canada. Therefore, it can be found throughout most of Canada and the northeastern United States. This species prefers lakes and avoids extremely cold or warm weather. In addition, they are tolerant of hypoxic (low oxygen) conditions.

The yellow perch consumes invertebrates and small fish. They occur in freshwater and brackish water and can tolerate a variety of habitats. They typically spawn from April to May when the waters are warm. In their introduced range, they often eat native fish and compete with them for food which places pressure on native fish populations.

Yellow perch are not endangered.

4) Trout-perch (Percopsis omiscomaycus)

Trout-perch are a resilient species which has led them to become one of the most abundant species in the Great Lakes region. Rob Foster / CC BY 4.0

Native to the United States and Canada

Trout-perch are small, grey fish with light spotting found in deep parts of lakes and large rivers, preferring areas with sandy substrates. However, they will migrate to streams with gravel or rock substrates to spawn. Trout-perches are named by their shared trout and perch characteristics. However, they are much smaller than trout or perch fish, with an average length of around 3.5 in (8.9 cm).

They are benthic invertivores specializing in submerged aquatic insects, mollusks, and worms near the bottom of the water body. In the spring, trout-perch congregate over gravel substrates to spawn, broadcasting their eggs over the substrate and providing no parental care.

The species is tolerant to pollution and temperature changes. Their resilience has led them to become one of the most abundant fish in the Great Lakes region. As a result, trout-perch are not of conservation concern.

5) White perch (Morone americana)

Caught white perch
Although white perch have “perch” in their name, they actually belong to the temperate bass family. Tim / CC BY 4.0

Native to the northeastern United States and along the US-Canada border

The white perch’s range extends along the Atlantic Coast. While the name “perch” taxonomically refers to fish in the genus Perca, several distantly related species are associated with the perch moniker. For example, the white perch belongs to the family Moronidae, the group commonly referred to as the temperate basses, which contains striped and yellow basses. Despite their taxonomic position, they are still referred to as “perch” by anglers. White perch are silver in color without any conspicuous stripes or bars. On average, white perch are 5 inches (12.7cm) long but can grow up to 22 inches (56 cm).

This species can be found in the open water in large schools. White perch are scatter spawners and reproduce in groups during the spring and summer when the water reaches at least 50 °F (10 °C). Like other perch species, they are opportunistic predators with a preference for invertebrates and small fish.

Populations of white perch are healthy, and this species is not of conservation concern.

6) Pirate perch (Aphredoderus sayanus)

Pirate perch in hand
The pirate perch has an average length of 4 inches and is not considered a true perch. fishesoftexas / CC BY-SA 4.0

Native to the United States

The temperate, freshwater-loving pirate perch is a member of the order Percopiformes which contains the trout-perch. Despite this common name, they are not considered true perches (genus: Perca) and are a completely unrelated group of fish. On average, pirate perches are only 4 inches (10 cm) long. This species’ range extends from Texas to Pennsylvania along the southeastern United States. It also follows the Mississippi River northward into Minnesota and Michigan.

Interestingly, the pirate perch’s anus is located far forward along the body, which is why it was given its Latin name “Aphredoderus,” that roughly translates to “excrement throat.”

Both parents defend nests among dense vegetation and root masses during the nesting season. In addition, an interesting commensal relationship occurs between nesting pirate perch and burrowing animals like salamanders and insect larvae.

Pirate perch are listed as least concern by the IUCN, but populations are declining in the northernmost part of their range.

7) Nile perch (Lates niloticus)

Nile perch underwater
The Nile perch is a prolific species in Africa and has been introduced in some areas to provide food for locals. Daiju Azuma, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Native to Africa

Also known as the Victorian perch, the Nile perch is a prolific and predatory species of freshwater fish in Africa. This species is prized as a sportfish, a commercially harvested fish species, and is farmed in commercial aquaculture. Generally, they are dark, silver fish with light bellies and large mouths. Prominent individuals can be up to 78 in (198 cm) in length.

This species’ breeding season occurs during the spring and summer, with each spawning event producing millions of eggs. Nile perch spawn over substrates, usually under vegetation, rocks, or other types of cover. Their diet consists of other fish, invertebrates, and mollusks. Small minnows make up the bulk of the Nile perch’s diet.

Nile perch are introduced to some areas of Africa to provide food for residents and improve the local economy. Unfortunately, introduced populations of Nile perch are highly invasive and led to the extinction of many fish species, especially cichlids.

This species is not endangered.

8) Climbing perch (Anabas testudineus)

Climbing perch
Climbing perch have a number of adaptations that allow them to live outside of water for extended periods. Navaneeth Sini George / CC BY 4.0

Native to Asia and Indonesia

The climbing perch is a small member of the Gourami family and, as a result, boasts a handful of remarkable adaptations that allow this fish to leave the water. As a result, they are found in many freshwater habitats, from swamps and lagoons to rivers and lakes amongst submerged vegetation. They usually reach around 5 inches (12.7 cm) in length.

This species is an oddity among the perch fish on this list. With an amphibious lifestyle, the climbing perch can leave the water for extended periods, with reports of fish surviving over two days out of the water. In addition, two adaptations help them excel on land. Firstly, they are labyrinth fish, possessing a vascularized organ that allows them to breathe air. Secondly, their fins are positioned in such a way that they can propel themselves forward on land.

Climbing perch are also tasty and recreationally harvested where they are found. Therefore, this species is not of conservation concern.

9) Bigscale logperch (Percina macrolepida)

Bigscale logperch in hand
Bigscale logperch have long, slender bodies and dark tiger stripes. fishesoftexas / CC BY-SA 4.0

Native to the United States and Mexico

Species in the genus Percina are more closely related to true perches than many other species on this list, as both genera are placed within the same family. Logperches are Percina species with distinct bars on their sides that distinguish them from darters in the same genus. Bigscale logperches are long, slender fish with tiger stripes. Breeding males have orange and yellow patterns on their dorsal fins. They can be found in swift rivers, lakes, and impoundments, with most of their range present in Texas and New Mexico.

Logperches meet their dietary needs by rooting around in the substrate and eating aquatic invertebrates that may try to escape. Adult logperches reproduce from mid-winter to mid-spring. During this breeding season, a pair of logperches will mate in a vertical position, and then the female will lay her eggs. Their eggs are sticky and attach to aquatic plants.

This species is classified as least concern by the IUCN and is not of conservation concern.

10) Pacific ocean perch (Sebastes alutus)

Group of Pacific ocean perch
Pacific ocean perch are large, delicious fish that are highly sought-after by anglers. Kathy Hough for NOAA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Native range across the North Pacific

The Pacific ocean perch may look familiar to saltwater anglers because it closely resembles the northern red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) and other marine redfish. These fish are large, bright red fish with giant mouths. Their body shape is similar to that of largemouth bass. Pacific ocean perches are marine predators found along the Pacific Coast from California in the United States to coastal Russia and Japan.

Usually, Pacific ocean perch are found in large schools on the hunt for krill and small fish. They migrate seasonally between spawning and feeding grounds.

These large fish are sought-after by anglers. Their filets are delicious and massive fish with a standard length of 21 inches (53 cm). In addition, Pacific ocean perch are long-lived and capable of living for at least 100 years. Luckily for anglers, this species is highly abundant and not of conservation concern.

11) Shiner perch (Cymatogaster aggregata)

Shiner perch in hand
Shiner perches give birth to live young, which is different to other species on this list. Lee Cain / CC BY 4.0

Native to the North American Pacific Coast

Also known as the shiner surfperch, shiner perches are small marine fish with compressed, silver bodies. They are small fish, around 4.5 in (11.4 cm). As a result, they are not considered gamefish but may be of use to anglers as bait. Additionally, their abundance makes them an essential prey item for large gamefish. Shiner perch can be found amongst grass beds in saline and brackish water. They consume small aquatic invertebrates and algae.

Unlike many other species on this list, shiner perches are viviparous and give birth to live young. Mating occurs in the summer. This consists of a complex mating ritual the male performs, and females store sperm until December. Females will mate with multiple males, and progeny within the same brood often have different fathers. The embryos develop in December when the eggs are fertilized, and embryos begin to grow within the female.

Shiner perches are common and not of conservation concern.

12) Sacramento perch (Archoplites interruptus)

Sacramento perch
The Sacramento perch is considered endangered and is the only sunfish species that is native to California. Rudyard / CC BY 4.0

Native to California

Most sunfish species have a common name that refers to them as perch, but this list will only discuss the Sacramento perch, which has no other common name. Their bodies are silver and mottled. 

The endangered Sacramento perch is the only sunfish native to California. In addition, they have been introduced to several drainages outside of their range, providing a refuge for this species that is declining in its native range at an alarming rate. Generally, non-native species are undesirable, but in this case, a positive argument could be made as these satellite populations could become a source of Sacramento perch should conservationists wish to reintroduce the species to areas where its native range has been extirpated.

This species is tolerant of variable salinity and thrive in areas where other freshwater species may not. This tolerance gives them an advantage over species that require freshwater to survive. Conversely, they are poor competitors when other similar species, like bluegill, invade their native range.

Sacramento perch are considered endangered by the IUCN.

13) Bigeye sea perch (Helicolenus barathri)

Bigeye sea perch
Bigeye sea perch have a maximum reported length of around 14 inches (36 cm). jgenest / CC BY-NC 4.0

Native to the southwestern Pacific Ocean

This oddball species is a red marine fish belonging to the family Scorpaenidae. This group is known as the scorpionfish because they possess sharp spines coated in venom. The bigeye sea perch has large eyes and a mottled red and white pattern. Individuals can also have an iridescent green color. Their gill covers are also covered in large spikes. Their reported maximum length is about 14 in (36 cm). Sea perch are also long-lived, with a maximum reported age of 60.

Bigeye sea perches are usually found along the seabed on the continental shelf of the Tasman Sea in southeastern Australia. Here, they predate upon squid, fish, and invertebrates. In turn, they become food for sharks and predatory mammals.

In Australia, both Helicolenus species are commercially harvested for their flesh. Sea perch filets are sold in supermarkets and fish markets when they are in season. Bigeye sea perch are abundant and not of conservation concern.

Keyla P
About the author

Keyla P

I have a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources focusing on Wildlife Ecology and a minor in Entomology. I am also an award-winning student researcher with five years of experience with wildlife-related research.

Read more about Pond Informer.

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