Everyone is probably familiar with such a cute and slightly prickly minke whale as a river perch, which has a permanent residence permit in various water bodies. Anglers say that perch can be caught with different tackle. The meat of this fish predator is white and quite tasty. Let’s try to uncover all the secrets of the life of this freshwater inhabitant, describing its appearance, habits, eating habits, giving some interesting facts about perch life.
Origin of the species and description
River perch is also called common, it belongs to the class of ray-finned fish, the genus of freshwater perch and the perch family. If we turn to history, it should be noted that the first who scientifically described the river perch was the Swedish ichthyologist Peter Artedi, this happened in the thirties of the eighteenth century. The identification of the most important morphological features, according to Artedi’s descriptions, was due to the observation of perches inhabiting the Swedish lakes. Carl Linnaeus gave perch a classification in 1758 based on material from Peter Artedy. In the 20s of the nineteenth century, this fish was studied in detail by the French scientists Achille Valenciennes and Georges Cuvier, who also cited a number of external fish signs.
Currently, river perch is considered a well-studied fish, about the systematics, morphology, stages of development and growth of which almost everything is known. Describing the river perch, one cannot fail to mention its striped and prickly attire, which is the main fish difference. In general, this fish has a lot of names. On the Don they call him “Chekomas”, in conversation fishermen often call him a hunchback, a sailor, a minke whale. The first written mention of the perch dates back to 1704, although it is known that it appeared much earlier in the oral art of the people.
The researchers found that the origin of the word “perch” is common Slavic and means “eye” (eye). It is believed that this was the name of the big-eyed fish or the perch was named because it has a dark contrasting spot on the first dorsal fin, resembling an eye. There is another version that speaks of the Proto-Indo-European origin of the fish name, which translates as “sharp”.
An interesting fact: River perch is a frequent hero of literary and artistic art, it is also mentioned in various classical works, depicted on the masterpieces of painters. In addition, perch can be seen on the postage stamps of different countries, and in some German and Finnish cities this fish adorns their emblems.
Appearance and features
The average length of the river perch ranges from 45 to 50 cm, and its weight is from 2 to 2.1 kg. Of course, there are larger specimens, but they are not so common, but smaller ones are widespread everywhere, it all depends on the reservoir and the region in which it is located. The perch body is compressed on the sides, it is covered with very small, very dense ctenoid scales. The color of the body is greenish-yellow, it is decorated with black, lateral, transverse stripes, the number of which may vary, but usually does not exceed 9 pieces. In the abdomen, a white tint is noticeable. Two closely spaced fins stand out on the back, the first one exceeding the second fin in length and height.
As already mentioned, the first dorsal fin has a black spot at the end, which is a characteristic feature of this fish species. The pectoral fins are shorter than the pelvic fins. The first dorsal fin is greyish in color, while the second is greenish-yellow. On the anal and pectoral fins, a yellow-orange or red tint is noticeable. The coloration of the ventral fins is light with a rich red edging. As for the caudal fin, it is dark at the base, and a reddish color is visible closer to the tip and from the sides. The snout of a mature perch is very blunt, and a small hump is visible behind the head. The end of the upper jaw coincides with the vertical line passing through the center of the fish eyes, the iris of which is colored yellowish.
On the operculum, scales are visible from above, where a spine (it may be double) with a serrated preoperculum is located. Fish teeth are bristle-shaped, arranged in rows in the sky and in the jaw area. Fangs are not observed in perch. The gill membranes are not fused with each other, the cheeks of the fish are covered with scales, there are no scales near the tail fin. The fry have more delicate scales, which gradually become coarser, stronger and harder.
An interesting fact: Cavaliers in river perches have more scales than females, males also have a lot of spiny rays in the area of u200bu200bthe second dorsal fin, but in females the body is higher and the eyes are not as large as in males.
Where does the river bass live?
River perch can be found almost everywhere, its habitat is very extensive.
He is an inhabitant of:
- ponds (both medium and large);
- coastal marine areas with desalinated water.
As for the last point, the Baltic Sea serves as an example of this, namely, the territories of its Riga and Gulf of Finland, fishermen-athletes often catch perch in such places. In our country, you will not find perch only in the waters of the Amur and in the area of its tributaries.
Interesting fact: Scientists have identified two races of perches that live together in the same water bodies, they include small and slowly growing perch (herbaceous) and fast growing big brother (deep).
In river basins and streams, where the water is too cold, you will not meet perches, they do not like such biotopes. Stormy mountain rivers with a swift current, this fish also bypasses. Common perch is settled in the waters of North Asia, lives everywhere in Europe. People brought it to the countries of the hot African continent, where the fish took root perfectly. Perch was also introduced to New Zealand and Australia. Previously, it was considered a typical species for North American water bodies, but then scientists identified this perch as a separate species, called the “yellow perch”.
Among other regions and countries where the common river perch was registered, one can name:
- Great Britain;
- Ireland and many others.
What do river bass eat?
River perch is a predator, it is passive at night, so it seeks food during daylight hours, more often in the early morning. At dawn, fishermen often see splashes of water and small fish jumping out of the water column, which is a sign of the hunting of river perch, which is unpretentious in food, but always insatiable.
In the standard perch menu you can see:
- fry and young fish;
- eggs of other aquatic life;
- water worms;
- larvae of various insects;
The composition of the diet depends on the age and size of the fish, as well as on the season. Perch young lead a bottom life, looking for the smallest plankton. When the length of the perch noticeably increases (from 2 to 6 cm), small fish begin to be present in its snacks, both of its own and of other species. Respectable in size, fish adhere to the coastal zone, where they hunt crayfish, topfish, roach, and eat caviar of other fish. Large perch often do not know the proportions in food and can eat so much that the tails of incompletely swallowed fish stick out of their mouths.
Interesting fact: In the stomach of a perch, bunches of algae and small pebbles are often found, which contribute to good digestion. Regarding gluttony, the perch even surpassed the pike, it eats more often, and the volumes of its portions are much more solid.
If we talk about specific types of fish that perch eat, then we can list:
- crucian young;
Character and lifestyle features
In summer, medium-sized perches prefer to spend time in overgrown bays and creeks. Mature perches gather in small flocks (up to 10 representatives). Flocks of young animals are much larger, they can number hundreds of fish. Perches are fond of destroyed dams, large snags and stones. In the grass thickets under water, you can’t immediately see them because of the greenish color, so they skillfully hunt for fish from an ambush, where they skillfully disguise themselves. Large-sized individuals prefer depth, deploying in pools and pits with snags.
The evening and morning hours of these fish are considered hunting. Unlike large fish, young fish hunt in packs, actively and aggressively pursuing potential prey. Striped are capable of speeds up to 0.66 meters per second. When the perch attacks the prey, its fin, located on the back, begins to bristle in a characteristic way. In general, river perches can be called twilight-daytime predatory fish that hunt when it is light (border of day and night). When darkness comes, predators stop being active.
The main factors that affect the behavior and development of perches include:
- indicators of the temperature regime of the water;
- total daylength;
- oxygen saturation of water;
- balance (structure) of the diet.
Where water bodies are too deep, perch do not dive far under the water, staying closer to the surface, where the water is more oxygenated. In the summer, some individuals make small migrations in order to gain more weight for winter, at the onset of which the fish return to favorable places to rest. In autumn, perches form large flocks that migrate to open deep-sea areas. When it is frosty and cold, the fish sticks to the bottom, being at a depth of up to 70 m. Just like in summer, perch are active in winter when it is light.
Social structure and reproduction
Common perches become sexually mature closer to two or three years of age. In places of spawning they move collectively, straying into numerous flocks. The spawning process itself is carried out in areas of river shallow water, in fresh waters, where the current is very weak. The water temperature should be between 7 and 15 degrees with a plus sign. The eggs fertilized by male perches are attached to all kinds of underwater snags, submerged branches, and the roots of trees growing on the shore. The laying of perch eggs is similar to a lace ribbon, the length of which varies within one meter, such a ribbon can have from 700 to 800,000 small eggs.
Interesting fact: In many places, they want to breed perch artificially using specialized equipment due to the fact that this fish has very tasty and very healthy meat.
After 3 or 4 weeks, the eggs begin to burst, releasing perch fry into the light. The first months of life, the babies feed on coastal plankton, and when they grow up more (from 5 to 10 cm), their predatory nature manifests itself in full force, young perches begin to hunt for smaller fish. It is worth noting that the average lifespan of a perch is about 15 years, although some individuals can live up to 25 years; such fish centenarians are found in Karelian lakes. Researchers have noticed that the life span of males is slightly shorter than that of females.
Natural enemies of river bass
Although the freshwater perch is a predator, often acting as someone’s enemy, he himself has many ill-wishers who are not averse to eating them.
Basically, perch enemies include predatory fish of larger dimensions, among worth mentioning:
Perch is actively eaten by birds living near the water: loons, terns, gulls, ospreys. Perch can easily be eaten by otters and muskrats. We should not forget about cannibalism, which is characteristic of many types of fish, including perch. A larger perch, without much attention to family ties, is able to swallow its small counterpart. Such phenomena are most often exacerbated in the autumn. Therefore, fry and small-sized young are the most vulnerable, perch eggs can also be eaten by other aquatic inhabitants.
Humans can also be safely reckoned among the main perch enemies, because the perch is a desirable object of prey for amateur fishermen, both abroad and in the territories of our state. In some reservoirs, commercial perch fishing is also carried out with the help of trawls. As already mentioned, perch meat has excellent taste, so it is used in various forms (smoked, fried, salted, frozen, etc.). Canned fish and fillets are made from river perch.
Population and species status
The habitat of the perch is quite extensive, in comparison with the historical places of its settlement, it has increased even more, due to the fact that people artificially imported it to other countries where it had not previously lived. In the vast majority of states, river common perch is not classified as a protected fish species, although there are some restrictions regarding fishing, but such measures apply to almost all freshwater fish. Even in one state, these restrictions vary, it all depends on the region. For example, in the UK there are seasonal bans on perch fishing, and in the open spaces of some other states it is impossible to catch perch that have not reached a certain size, they must be released back into the water element.
It is worth adding that the density of the perch population is different in different water bodies. In some places it is large, in others it is medium, it all depends on the climate, food supply, the state of the water body, and the presence of other larger predators in it. Speaking specifically about our country, it must be added that the perch has spread almost everywhere in its open spaces, it is a common type of fish for most water bodies and does not belong to the Red Book representatives, which is good news. According to the IUCN status, the river perch causes the least concern regarding the size of its fish population.
In the end, I would like to add that the handsome river perch looks very dignified and colorful, his striped suit suits him so well, and a number of red-orange fins gives the whole fish image brightness and attractiveness. No wonder this fish was the hero of many literary works, because it has a special charisma and become. It remains to be hoped that the favorable situation regarding the perch population will continue to remain the same.