The perch (Perca fluviatilis) is a distinctive fish, with a deep greenish body marked with dark vertical bands, and the dorsal fin is stiffened with spines. The tail and anal fins are orange and the gill-covers are tipped with a sharp spine. The erect dorsal fin has a noticeable black spot at the rear.
Perch live in schools, often mixing with other species of fish, usually in the top 50 metres of water. Spawning takes place in April, the very sticky eggs being produced in bands. Females twine these bands around submerged vegetation or among rocks while the males follow her and fertilise the eggs.
The young fish hatch after about three weeks and remain amongst the egg bands until the yolk sac is exhausted. They then venture into more open water and feed on planktonic animals. As they grow they begin to shoal together close to the bank. Males mature when they reach the length of seven to eight centimetres, females when they are ten centimetres.
The perch is found over most of Europe, except in Spain, Italy or Greece. It is also found across northern Asia and Siberia as far as the Kolyma River. It has been introduced to a number of other countries.
In parts of its range, perch are a commercial fish, caught with seine and stake-nets. In the UK, it is mainly a sport fish, much prized for its fighting qualities when hooked. Perch may be caught throughout the coarse angling season (16 June to 14 March). In some of the countries where it has been introduced it is considered a pest species.
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