New Jersey freshwater fish identification
Walley, Perch and Darters
Family Percidae, Family Moronidae, Family Aphredoderidae, Family Percopsidae
With at least 153 species, Percidae is one of the most diverse North American families of freshwater
fish. All but 3 species are darters, and 2 of these live in New Jersey. Darters are very small, and can be
seen darting around the bottom of streams and lakes. They eat tiny insects and crustaceans. The yellow
perch and the walleye are part of this family. Walley are an excellent fighting fish that grow very large.
White perch are part of the bass family (Moronidae), and the pirate perch is the one and only species
in its family (Aphredoderidae). Trout-perch are members of the Percopsidae family and they are not a
hybrid between a Trout and a Perch.
Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) grow as large as 36 inches, and have a large mouth and very large canine
teeth. They have silver eyes, a long slender body, a long pointed snout, and a forked caudal fin. The large
black spot on the first dorsal fin is absent on younger fish, and the body is yellow-olive to brown on top,
and dark green to brassy yellow-blue on the sides. 5 to 12 dusky bars or saddles along the top, and the
fins are usually yellow with wavy dark brown bands. George Fundell caught the NJ state record fish in the
Delaware River in 1993 that weighed in at 13 Lbs. 9 Oz. The minimum length keeper is 18 inches, and the
daily bag limit is 3.
Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) can reach 16 inches in length, and have no canine teeth. They have a
large mouth that extends to under the middle of the eye, and a forked caudal fin. They are green above
with 6 to 9 green-brown saddles that extend down along the yellow side. A black blotch can be found at
the rear and sometimes in the front of the first dorsal fin. The paired fins are yellow to red. In 1989, Gene
Engles caught the NJ State record yellow perch at 2 Lbs. 6 Oz. in Holiday Lake. The daily bag limit is 25
fish, and there is no minimum size.
Shield Darter (Percina peltata) grow to 3 1/2 inches, and have a row of black crescents on the first dorsal
fin. They are olive to tan above, with 6 to 7 horizontal rectangular black splotches along the side. They
have a mostly unscaled opercle and a large black blotch below the center of the caudal fin base.
Tessellated darter (Etheostoma olmstedi) grow to about 4 1/2 inches. They have dark brow Xs and Ws
along the sides with light brown wavy lines. The second dorsal fin is enlarged on breeding males.
Swamp darter (Etheostoma fusiforme) adults reach only 2 1/4 inches. They are green to tan above, with
small dark saddles, with dark green and brown mottling.
White perch (Marone americana) can grow to about 23 inches. Adults have no stripes along the side, but
the young have interrupted dark lines or bars on the sides. They are light olive to green above, and brassy
or silver-green below. The body is deepest under the first dorsal fin. Large adults have a blue cast on the
head. The 3 Lbs. 1 Oz. NJ State record fish was caught at Forest Hill Lake in 1989 by Edward Tango. The
daily bag limit is 25 fish, and there is no minimum size.
Pirate perch (Aphredoderus sayanus) grow to 5 1/2 inches in length. They have a short, deep body, a large
head and mouth, and a protruding lower jaw. They are gray to black above, with black and yellow-white
speckles below. They have 1 squarish dorsal fin with spines and rays. Adults may have a purple sheen. Pirate
perch are very uncommon in NJ. The habitat is slow muddy water.
Trout perch (Percopsis omiscomaycus) grow to about 8 inches, have large eyes, a slender caudal peduncle
and a large forked caudal fin. They are transparent yellow-olive with silver flecks above, and 7 to 12 dusky
spots along the sides. They inhabit deep pools of large rivers, usually over sand. They are very rare in NJ.
questions about fish terminology? GO TO: FISH BODY CHARTS
GO TO NJ FRESHWATER FISH ID MAIN PAGE
GO TO NJ COMMON FRESHWATER FISH PAGE
GO TO NJ UNCOMMON FRESHWATER FISH PAGE
By Joe M. Cianci. See main page for list of sources. Send E mail to me at email@example.com Comments welcome!
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