Paging Through Perches

Anusha De 4/9/14 Vu-PAP Bio- P3


The objective of this dissection is to observe the placement of organs in a perch and their relationships to one another, with emphasis on the circulatory system.


Kingdom: Animalia - eukaryotic, multicellular

Phylum: Chordata - spine, endoskeleton

Class: Osteichthyes - bony, breathes with gills

Order: Perciformes - "perch-like"

Family: Percidae - fins with soft rays and stiff spines, anal fin has 2 spines

Genus: Perca - lidless eyes, nostrils

Species: Flavescens - golden yellow coloration, 5-8 dark bands

Perch at a Glance

Perca flavescens, otherwise known as the Yellow Perch, are long fish that can grow up to 15 inches long. They are golden yellow in color, and have 5 to 8 dark vertical bands going from their back to belly. The Yellow Perch has 6 fins: 1 caudal fin, 2 dorsal fins, 1 anal fin, 1 pelvic fin, and 1 pectoral fin. The pelvic fin can be orange or red in color, but the other fins are generally olive colored. Each fin has a specific function that assists perch movement. The caudal help helps the perch go forward, dorsal fins help it steer and stay upright, the pectoral fin keep the it moving backwards or forwards, the anal fin steers it in a straight line and helps it keep its balance, and the pelvic fin helps it steer forward and stay upright. Perches are native to the numerous waterways around Canada and the United States, and can be found in a variety of water bodies, ranging from ponds to streams. However, their most common habitat is a warm-water lake with abundant vegetation. Perch prey includes small fish, insects, crayfish, minnows, snails, mussels, leeches, fish eggs, worms, and sometimes other Yellow Perch. The perch is able to eat such varied foods because of adaptations such as palatines (specialized teeth) and gill rakers. Perch predators include fish such as the Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Black Crappie, Channel Catfish, and Chain Pickerel, birds such as herons, gulls, eagles, hawks, and kingfishers, and other animals such as turtles and bullfrogs.


As can be seen in the following diagrams, perch evolved from Cartilaginous over a long time period.
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Anatomy and Dissection

Refer to the following videos and images for an overview of the external and internal anatomy of the yellow perch, along with a guided dissection.
Bony Fish (Perch) Anatomy
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Perch Dissection
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The Circulatory System

The function of a perch's circulatory system is to transport blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the the body. The perch has a single-loop, closed circulatory system, which means that blood remains in vessels instead of in spaces or cavities, and only goes through one circuit instead of two. The circulatory system consists of a two-chambered heart, gills, arteries, capillaries, and veins. Veins bring deoxygenated blood to the heart, which is then pumped to the gills. The gills infuse the blood with oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Oxygenated blood flows away from gills into the body through arteries. Capillaries distribute the oxygenated blood to tissues, and then pump deoxygenated blood into the veins, which pump it back to the heart. Each organ in the perch's circulatory system performs a different function:

  • Heart - The two-chambered heart contains of 4 parts: sinus venosus, atrium, ventricle, and bulbus arteriosus.
  • Gills - Gills oxygenate blood. They are one of the most important components of the circulatory system.
  • Arteries - Arteries carry oxygenated blood away from the gills and distribute it throughout the body. The two largest arteries in the perch are the ventral and dorsal aorta.
  • Capillaries - Capillaries carry oxygenated blood from the arteries to the tissues, and carry deoxygenated blood to the veins.
  • Veins - The veins carry deoxygenated blood back to the heart.
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BIOL 3010 Perch Urogenital and Circulatory Systems

Perch Ecology

Perch can be found in a wide range of habitats, from ponds to streams. They prefer bodies of warm water with abundant vegetation. In the food web below, perch would be classified as a tertiary consumer, because it consumes the Gammarus, which is a secondary consumer. The Gammarus consumes a primary consumer, the Calanoid, which feeds on the producer, Green Algae. The perch feeds on small fish, insects, crayfish, minnows, snails, mussels, leeches, fish eggs, worms, and sometimes other Yellow Perch. However, organisms such fish (Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Channel Catfish), birds (herons, gulls, eagles, hawks, kingfishers), turtles and bullfrogs are predators of the perch. Perch travel in schools when they are in deep water. They come to the shallow water at dawn and dusk for feeding purposes.
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Human Impact

Humans interact with and influence the perch species as a whole to a great extent,. Perch are highly desirable to fishermen because they are easy to catch and taste good as well. Because of this, perch are even being raised in farms. Overfishing is a foreseeable problem in the future. It could result in depletion of the perch population.

Fun Facts

  • There are more than 6,000 species of perch.
  • The female perch is larger than the male perch.
  • Sometimes schools of perch are separated by gender.
  • Adult females lay over 10,000 eggs at a time during reproduction.
  • Yellow perch lay their eggs in long, connected ribbons.
  • A perch's esophagus is flexible, which means it can accommodate foods of all sizes.
  • The largest yellow perch ever caught weight 3 pounds and 4 ounces.
  • Perch eggs hatch within 11 to 27 days, depending on water temperature.
  • Perches have sharp fins that scare off predators.
  • Perch are most active during the day.