Discover All Types Of Perch Fish

Written by Jennifer Geer
Published: March 24, 2023
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Would you be surprised to learn that although there are many types of fish with “perch” in their name, they aren’t all true members of the perch family? One example is the white perch fish. While its name is “white perch”, this fish is actually a member of the bass family and not a true perch at all.

Perch are a bony type of fish found in freshwater habitats. They’re a popular gamefish because they are not only easy to prepare and nutritious to eat, they are known to put up an exciting challenge for anglers when caught on a line.

Perch fish are of the genus, Perca, belonging to the family Percidae. Within this family are three main species of perch fish. Read on to discover the three types of perch fish below!

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3 Types of Perch Fish

The three species of perch fish include the European perch fish, the yellow perch fish, and the Balkhas perch fish. True perch are fast swimmers with a long and round body shape. The three species are similar in appearance, with some variations. All three types are ray-finned with paired pectoral and pelvic fins. They have two dorsal fins that can either grow separately or joined.

Perch fish are found throughout the world. They are mainly carnivorous, feeding on insects, crayfish, and other fish. However, they are considered omnivores because adult perch will also eat freshwater vegetation and algae.

1 European Perch Fish or Common Perch 

European perch

The European Perch is the national fish of Finland.

©zdenek_macat/Shutterstock.com

The European perch, also known as the common perch or English perch, live in bodies of freshwater in Europe and northern Asia. Their habitat includes deep ponds, lakes, and slow-moving to still rivers. These fish were introduced to the Southern Hemisphere and have thrived in New Zealand and Australia.

Scientific Name: Perca fluviatilis

Appearance: The European perch are a greenish color with red fins. They have a distinct hump between their heads and dorsal fins with eight darker-colored vertical lines along their sides.

Size: The average weight of the European perch is between one and a half to three pounds. Some of the biggest of the species weigh over six pounds. The average length is between 10 to 15 inches. Amazingly, the maximum recorded length was over 25 inches.

Fun Fact: The European Perch is the national fish of Finland.

2 Yellow Perch Fish or American Perch 

Yellow Perch jumping

The Yellow Perch jumps out of the water to snare a favorite insect.

©bekirevren/Shutterstock.com

The yellow perch fish, also called American perch, American river perch, and striped perch is found in North America. They are abundant in the Great Lakes region, especially Lake Erie. Walleyes are close relatives of yellow perch and share some similarities in appearance, habitat, and eating habits.

Similar to the European perch, yellow perch prefer slow-moving to still rivers, lakes, and ponds. They prefer to live in shallow waters with lots of protection for hiding, such as freshwater vegetation.

Scientific Name: Perca flavescens

Appearance: Yellow perch fish have golden to yellow scales with six to eight dark vertical stripes along their sides. 

Size: The average size of the yellow perch is six to 12 inches in length and less than a pound in weight.

Fun Fact: The record for the largest yellow perch ever caught in New Jersey is in 1865. It was 18 inches long and weighed 4 pounds and 3 ounces.

3 Balkhash Perch Fish

Lake Balkhash

The Balkhash is endemic to two lakes, one is Lake Balkhash. It is not found anywhere else in the world.

©Maxim Petrichuk/Shutterstock.com

The Balkhash perch lives in Lake Balkhash and Lake Alakol in Kazakhstan. This perch species suffered a population decline due to other predatory fish introduced into its habitats. The Balkhash is endemic to these lakes and not found anywhere else in the world.

Like the other perch species, the Balkhash perch lives in slow-moving or still waters. As adults, they feed primarily on other fish. When young, they eat mainly insect larvae.

Scientific Name: Perca schrenkii

Appearance: The Balkhash perch has a lighter colored body than the European and yellow perch species. Its body is more elongated, its first dorsal fin is lower, and it doesn’t sport dark bands on its sides.

Size: The average length is under 20 inches, and the average weight is over three pounds. 

Fun Fact: The Baltic-German Russian naturalist and explorer, Alexander von Schrenk made the discover of the Balkhas perch in 1842. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © FedBul/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Jennifer Geer is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on animals, news topics, travel, and weather. Jennifer holds a Master's Degree from the University of Tulsa, and she has been researching and writing about news topics and animals for over four years. A resident of Illinois, Jennifer enjoys hiking, gardening, and caring for her three pugs.

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