The Perky Perch



American perch, or Perca flavescens, are in the phylum Chordata. They are found in the clear waters of lakes or large rivers. They like moderate water temperatures and can withstand low oxygen levels. Young perch eat zooplankton, but adult perch eat macroinvertebrates, insects, and other fish.


Students will observe the external and internal anatomy of the perch, especially the location of organs in relation to other organs. They will specifically focus on the circulatory system.


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Percidae

Genus: Perca

Species: P. flavescens

Bony Fish (Perch) Anatomy

Circulatory System

The circulatory system of a perch is a single loop, low pressure system. Deoxygenated blood goes throughout the heart and to the gills, where it becomes oxygenated by releasing carbon dioxide. The blood is then pumped straight to the body and eventually returns to the heart to complete the cycle. Perch have a two chambered heart composed of the sinus venosus, the atrium, the ventricle, and the bulbus arteriosus. Fish have to constantly keep moving to maintain blood pressure.

Human Impact

Perch are important humans because they support major fisheries in the Great Lakes. 85% fish caught for sport in Lake Michigan are yellow perch. They can also be used as bait to catch bigger fish.

Fun Facts

  • When spawning, female perch lay their eggs in gelatinous strands that float in the water or hang on to plants
  • There are over 6000 species in 150 different families
  • Average size is 10-20 inches
  • Perch breed in late spring
  • They are sometimes separated into different male and female schools
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