White Perch (Morone Americana)

White Perch (Morone Americana)

White Perch (Morone Americana)

White Perch (Morone Americana)

COLDWATER CASEFILE: White Perch (Morone Americana)  I have to admit, this fish was not on my list of coldwater species to cover. When I was contacted by a member of this group several weeks ago and asked to write a species profile on it, I hesitated to commit to it. There are so many more colorful fish out there that I thought would be better suited for tank life and/or are more interesting that I didn’t think I would ever get to the white perch. But recently, that person asked again saying that the white perch would so arrive, so I gave in. First, to clarify, the white perch is not a perch. It is related to some of the sea basses such as the striped bass, a common marine game fish found along the Atlantic seaboard of the USA. Like its larger relative, the white perch is a commercially important fish. However, unlike the striped bass, the perch is more at home in fully freshwater environments. Even individuals living out to sea return to fresh or very lightly brackish water to spawn. And there are many, many areas where these fish live in landlocked lakes and ponds. Unfortunately, it has been introduced into many areas where it is not native and has decimated local fish populations. Many states, even those where it is native, have laws preventing you from re-releasing captured individuals, so check with the local laws if that is your intent. Why would a native fish not be welcome back? Unlike many fish, the populations of white perch are not in decline. A single, small female can lay 20,000 eggs when breeding while a full sized adult can lay in excess of 250,000! This is a fact that the aquaculture industry is able to exploit and these fish are raised by the ton on farms for food. Receiving fish from a farm is probably better than catching one because the farm raised fish have likely been reared on a diet of pellets. Wild fish primarily eat fish and fish eggs.
Origin: From Canada to S. Carolina. Originally rare or absent from areas north of Boston, but was accidently introduced by fishing fleets entering Boston Harbor in the early 1900s.
Size: The average size of the white perch is 23cm/9″ however they can grow up to 40cm/ 16″. They tend to be smaller in areas where food is limited.
Temperature: Room temperature is fine.
Feeding: In nature, it eats fish almost exclusively and occassionally worms. In the aquarium, they may eat a fish-based pellet food if they were reared on the farm, otherwise you can try strips of raw fish, bloodwarms and earthworms. Crabs, shrimp and squid are also taken.
Habitat: These fish are very adaptable to water conditions. I wouldn’t go smaller than a 75 gallon / 280 liter tank for an adult and bigger is better. These fish have been known to migrate if they are not landlocked so swimming space is important. They generally trav in large schools but their size may make that impossible to replicate for most aquarists. Substrate and decorations are unimportant. They will not bother any plants you choose to add. Because they are large predators, they produce a lot of waste, so make sure your filtration is adequate.
Breeding: They are bred on fish farms in huge numbers by stripping the roe and milt from the parents. Natural reproduction in captivity has not been recorded in captivity to my knowledge. They become capable of breeding at 6 inches
Note: the fish in the photo are young. The pattern on the back will fade leaving the fish olive and silver.

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