perch

perch, common name for some members of the family Percidae, symmetrical freshwater fishes of N Europe, Asia, and North America. The perches belong to the large order Perciformes (spiny-finned fishes) and are related to the sunfishes and the sea basses. The best-known North American species is the yellow, or lake, perch (Perca flavescens), a popular game and food fish abundant in lakes and large streams, where it feeds on insects, crayfish, and small fish and grows to an average length of 1 ft (30 cm) and weight of 1 lb (.5 kg). The voracious walleye, or walleyed pike (Sander vitreus), another member of the family, is darker and larger (up to 10 lb/4.5 kg). Very similar to the walleye but slenderer and smaller is the sauger, or sand pike (S. canadensis). The native American darters (2–3 in/5–8 cm), found E of the Rockies, are widespread and of many species, most of them brilliantly colored. Of separate families are the pirate perch, a chubby little fish of sluggish streams and bayous (family Aphredoderidae), and the trout perch, a small fish abundant in the Great Lakes (family Percopsidae). See also surfperch. Perches are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Perciformes, family Percidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Vertebrate Zoology