Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1891
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record: 1891
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record:

General Invasion History:

Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) is native to midwestern and eastern North America from Great Slave Lake, the St. Lawrence River, and Nova Scotia, south to Missouri and South Carolina. It has been widely introduced in the western US (Page and Burr 1991; USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2014). The Yellow Perch was introduced to the Columbia River system starting in 1891, with a multi-species release in Salem, Oregon, followed by many subsequent plantings in the Columbia drainage (Lampman 1946). This fish has been introduced to many other Pacific Coast river basins, but we are uncertain about occurrences in the estuaries of smaller rivers. However, it has been found in 'potholes' in or near the Chehalis River at Grays Harbor, Washington (2005, USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2014). It was introduced to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River system in 1908, and reached the Delta, but became extinct in that system by 1951 (Dill and Cordone 1997).

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the West Coast:

The Yellow Perch was probably introduced to the Columbia River system with a stocking of mixed 'spiny-rayed' fishes in Salem, Oregon in 1893. There were also plantings in Silver Lake, Washington, in the lower basin in 1894 and 1896, and caught in the mainstem of the river near Mount Coffin, Longview, Washington, in 1904, and was common in Portland markets by 1909 (Lampman 1946). Yellow Perch are common in the Lower Columbia in sloughs from Portland to Astoria (Farr and Ward 1993; Van Dyke et al. 2009; USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2018).

In California, 3000 Yellow Perch were introduced to the Feather River, in the Sacramento River basin. Another stocking, of 3,980 perch was made in Lake Cuyamaca, near San Diego (Smith 1895). By 1910 to 1920, they were considered uncommon and established in the Central Valley and the inner Delta. However, this population declined, with the last specimens collected in in the late 1940s and early 1950s. There was an unofficial reintroduction to the Lafayette Reservoir, Contra Costa County, in 1984 (Dill and Cordone 1997), but Yellow Perch have not been have not been collected in Walnut Creek below the reservoir (Leidy 2007).

In 1946, Yellow Perch were found in 1946, in Copco Lake, Siskiyou County, on the Klamath River. By 1951, they were established in backwaters and dredge ponds along the river, as far as the mouth of the river in Klamath, California (Coots 1956), but are rare in the mainstem of the river (Dill and Cordone 1997; Moyle 2002).

Invasion History Elsewhere in the World:

Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) has not been introduced outside of North America, but its congener P. fluviatilis (Common Perch) has been widely introduced in Europe, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand (Lever 1996).


Perca flavescens (Yellow Perch) is a medium-sized freshwater fish, with a moderately compressed body, and two separate dorsal fins, one spiny, and one with mostly soft rays. The Yellow Perch has 12–14 dorsal spines in the first dorsal, and 1–2 spines and 13–16 rays in the second dorsal. There are 2 anal spines, and 6–9 rays. There is a complete lateral line and 52–61 lateral line scale. The snout is pointed, with a large mouth extends to the middle of the eye. The pelvic fins are jugular. Stunted males mature at at 100 mm, stunted females, at 135 mm, while adults rarely reach 400–450 mm. Yellow Perch are green above, and yellow on the sides, with 6–9 greenish-brown saddles, with a dark blotch at rear of the dorsal fins. The paired fins are yellow to red (Hardy 1978; Page and Burr 1991; Jenkins and Burkhead 1993; Murdy et al. 1997).


Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Chordata
Subphylum:   Vertebrata
Superclass:   Osteichthyes
Class:   Actinopterygii
Subclass:   Neopterygii
Infraclass:   Teleostei
Superorder:   Acanthopterygii
Order:   Perciformes
Suborder:   Percoidei
Family:   Percidae
Genus:   Perca
Species:   flavescens


Potentially Misidentified Species



The Yellow Perch inhabits a wide range in northeastern and north-central North America, but requires relatively low temperature for spawning (5–18 °C) (Hardy 1978; Jenkins and Burkhead 1993). Adult fish tolerate salinities as high as 13 PSU (Hardy 1978). Estuarine populations mostly spawn in fresh water, but eggs and larvae of different populations from Chesapeake Bay tributaries developed successfully at 7–9 PSU (Victoria et al. 1992), and eggs have been found at 2.5 PSU (Hardy 1978). Yellow Perch inhabit a wide range of habitats, including ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers, including low-salinity estuaries (Page and Burr 1991; Murdy et al. 1997). Juvenile fish are planktivorous, and gradually switch to small benthic invertebrates such as snails, insects, and crayfish (Coots 1956; Jenkins and Burkhead 1993; Moyle 2002). Yellow Perch in the Klamath River do prey on small juvenile Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawystscha) (Coots 1956; Dahle 1979). Predators include fishes, birds, and humans.


zooplankton, mollusks, crustaceans, small fishes


Fishes, birds, humans


Sunfishes, catfishes

Trophic Status:




General HabitatFresh (nontidal) MarshNone
General HabitatGrass BedNone
General HabitatCoarse Woody DebrisNone
General HabitatNontidal FreshwaterNone
General HabitatTidal Fresh MarshNone
General HabitatSalt-brackish marshNone
General HabitatUnstructured BottomNone
General HabitatRockyNone
Salinity RangeLimnetic0-0.5 PSU
Salinity RangeOligohaline0.5-5 PSU
Salinity RangeMesohaline5-18 PSU
Tidal RangeSubtidalNone
Vertical HabitatNektonicNone

Life History

The Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) is a medium-sized freshwater fish that enters brackish waters. Estuarine populations in Chesapeake Bay migrate up freshwater streams for spawning. Males mature at an earlier age (often in their second year, and 100–115 mm length), than females, who mature in their third year, at lengths above 135 mm (Hardy 1978; Jenkins and Burkhead 1993). Spawning occurs in late winter (Maryland) to early summer (Minnesota) at 2–18 °C, and usually at night (Jenkins an Burkhead 1993). Typically, a small school of males follow a female, and maneuver for a position near the female's vent. She lays a long string containing 7,000 to 138,000 eggs. Total fecundity ranges from 2000 to 138,000. Eggs are laid in shallow water, over rocks, sand, rubble, brush, or vegetation. Eggs develop in 8 to 51 days at 5 to 18 °C (Hardy 1978; Jenkins and Burkhead 1993). Larvae are planktonic, and can feed soon after hatching, although they have a yolk-sac. Growth varies considerably with temperature and food supplies—stunting is common in cold or crowded waters. Perch in the relatively cold Klamath River usually reach 270 mm by the end of their 5th year (Moyle 2002). Maximum longevity was 13 years in Pennsylvania (Jenkins and Burkhead 1993).

Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Minimum Temperature (ºC)4Based on geographical range
Maximum Temperature (ºC)33Hardy 1978
Minimum Salinity (‰)0This is a freshwater fish.
Maximum Salinity (‰)13Field, Hardy 1978
Minimum Reproductive Temperature2Jenkins and Burkhead 1993
Maximum Reproductive Temperature18Jenkins and Burkhead 1993
Minimum Reproductive Salinity0This is a freshwater fish.
Maximum Reproductive Salinity9Experimental upper tolerances for freshwater-estuarine Chesapeake populations varied from 7-9 PSU. For an inland Pennsylvania population, the upper limit was 6 PSU (Victoria et al. 1993).
Minimum Length (mm)100For stunted males; 135 for females (Hardy 1978)
Maximum Length (mm)356Hardy 1978
Broad Temperature RangeNoneCold temperate-Warm temperate
Broad Salinity RangeNoneLimnetic-Mesohaline

General Impacts

Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) is a popular food and sport-fish, with good flavor, and easy to catch, but it is prone to stunting in cold water, poor food conditions, or overcrowded ponds. However, they are potential competitors with, and predators on, native fishes (Lampman 1946; Moyle 2002).

Regional Impacts

P140Klamath RiverEcological ImpactPredation

80% of Yellow Perch fingerlings in a sample form the Klamath River contained Chinook Salmon fingerlings ((Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) (Dahl 1979). They are also predators on native minnows and suckers (some endangered) in the upper Klamath basin (Moyle 2002). Predation impacts on Chinook Salmon are probably low, because of the perch's low abundance, but young Chinook Salmon use the same backwater areas as Yellow Perch (Dahl 1979).

P140Klamath RiverEconomic ImpactFisheries
Yellow Perch are a desirable food-fish, but are prone to stunting in small lakes and ponds. In the Klamath River, they support a minor, mostly incidental fishery (Coots 1956; Moyle 2002).
P260Columbia RiverEconomic ImpactFisheries

Yellow Perch are a popular sport-fish and panfish. Websites indicate that fishing for Yellow Perch is popular in sloughs and lakes along the river.

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
P260 Columbia River 1891 Def Estab
P090 San Francisco Bay 1908 Def Extinct
P280 Grays Harbor 2005 Def Estab
GSLAVEL Great Slave Lake 0 Native Estab
LATHAB Lake Athabasca 0 Native Estab
REINDEER Reindeer Lake 0 Native Estab
CEDARL Cedar Lake 0 Native Estab
LWINNIPOG Lake Winnipogosis 0 Native Estab
LMANIT Lake Manitoba 0 Native Estab
LWINNI Lake Winnipeg 0 Native Estab
LNIPIGON Lake Nipigon 0 Native Estab
GL-I Lakes Huron, Superior and Michigan 0 Native Estab
GL-II Lake Erie 0 Native Estab
GL-III Lake Ontario 0 Native Estab
NA-S3 None 0 Native Estab
N010 Passamaquoddy Bay 0 Native Estab
N020 Englishman/Machias Bay 0 Native Estab
N030 Narraguagus Bay 0 Native Estab
N036 _CDA_N036 (Maine Coastal) 0 Native Estab
N040 Blue Hill Bay 0 Native Estab
N050 Penobscot Bay 0 Native Estab
N060 Muscongus Bay 0 Native Estab
N070 Damariscotta River 0 Native Estab
N080 Sheepscot Bay 0 Native Estab
N090 Kennebec/Androscoggin River 0 Native Estab
N100 Casco Bay 0 Native Estab
N116 _CDA_N116 (Piscataqua-Salmon Falls) 0 Native Estab
N110 Saco Bay 0 Native Estab
N130 Great Bay 0 Native Estab
N150 Merrimack River 0 Native Estab
N160 Plum Island Sound 0 Native Estab
N170 Massachusetts Bay 0 Native Estab
M010 Buzzards Bay 0 Native Estab
M020 Narragansett Bay 0 Native Estab
M040 Long Island Sound 0 Native Estab
M060 Hudson River/Raritan Bay 0 Native Estab
M090 Delaware Bay 0 Native Estab
M130 Chesapeake Bay 0 Native Estab
S010 Albemarle Sound 0 Native Estab
S020 Pamlico Sound 0 Native Estab
S030 Bogue Sound 0 Native Estab
S040 New River 0 Native Estab
S045 _CDA_S045 (New) 0 Native Estab
S050 Cape Fear River 0 Native Estab
S056 _CDA_S056 (Northeast Cape Fear) 0 Native Estab
S060 Winyah Bay 0 Native Estab
S070 North/South Santee Rivers 0 Native Estab
S076 _CDA_S076 (South Carolina Coastal) 0 Native Estab
S080 Charleston Harbor 0 Native Estab
S070 North/South Santee Rivers 0 Native Estab
S090 Stono/North Edisto Rivers 0 Native Estab
P280 Grays Harbor 2014 Def Estab
P140 Klamath River 1951 Def Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude


Coots, Millard (1955) The yellow perch, Perca flavescens (Mitchell), in the Klamath River, California Fish and Game 47(7): 219-229

Dahle, Trygve (1979) Observations of fingerling Chinook Salmon in the stomachs of Yellow Perch from the Klamath River, California, California Fish and Game 85: 158

Daniels, Robert A.; Limburg, Karin E.; Schmidt, Robert E; Strayer, David L.; Chambers, R. Christopher (2005) Changes in fish assemblages in the tidal Hudson river, New York., American Fisheries Society Symposium 45: 471-503

Dill, William A.; Cordone, Almo J. (1997) History and status of introduced fishes in California, 1871-1996, California Department of Fish and Game Fish Bulletin 178: 1-414

Farr, Ruth A., Ward, David L. (1992) Fishes of the lower Willamette River, near Portland, Oregon, Northwest Science 67(1): 16-22

Hardy, Jerry D., Jr. (1978) Development of fishes of the Mid-Atlantic Bight. Vol. 3. Aphredoderidae through Rachycentridae., In: (Eds.) . , Washington DC. Pp. <missing location>

Horwitz, Richard J. (1986) Fishes of the Delaware estuary in Pennsylvania., In: Majundar, S.K., Brenner, F. J., Rhoads, A. F.(Eds.) Endangered and Threatened Species Programs in Pennsylvania.. , Philadelphia. Pp. 177-201

Hughes, Robert M., Gammon, James R. (1987) Longitudinal changes in fish assemblages and water quality in the Willamette River, Oregon, Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 116: 196-209

Jenkins, Robert E.; Burkhead, Noel M. (1993) Freshwater Fishes of Virginia, American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD. Pp. <missing location>

Lampman, Ben Hur (1946) Coming of the Pond Fishes, Binfords & Mort, Portland, OR. Pp. <missing location>

Leidy, R. A. (2007) Ecology, assemblage structure, distribution, and status of fishes in streams tributary to the San Francisco estuary, California, San Francisco Estuary Institute, Oakland CA. Pp. <missing location>

Lever, Christopher (1996) Naturalized fishes of the world, Academic Press, London, England. Pp. <missing location>

Marcy, Barton C., Jr. (1976) Fishes of the lower Connecticut River and the effects of the Connecticut Yankee Plant, American Fisheries Society Monograph 1: 61-113

Moyle, Peter B. (2002) Inland Fishes of California, revised and expanded, University of California Press, Berkeley CA. Pp. <missing location>

Murdy, Edward O.; Birdsong, Ray S.; Musick, John A. (1997) Fishes of Chesapeake Bay, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.. Pp. 57-289

Page, Lawrence M.; Burr, Brooks M. (1991) Freshwater Fishes: North America North of Mexico, Houghton-Mifflin, Boston. Pp. <missing location>

Raasch, Maynard S. (1996) Delaware's Freshwater and Brackish-water Fishes: A Popular Account, T.F.H. Publications, Neptune, NJ. Pp. <missing location>

Raasch, Maynard S.; Altemus, Vaughn L., Sr. (1991) Delaware's freshwater and brackish water fishes, a popular account , Society of Natural History of Delaware, Wilmingotn, Delaware. Pp. <missing location>

Simon, Carol A.; van Niekerk, H. Helene; Burghardt, Ingo; ten Hove, Harry A.; Kupriyanova, Elena K. (2019) Not out of Africa: Spirobranchus kraussii (Baird, 1865) is not a global fouling and invasive serpulid of Indo-Pacific origin, Biological Invasions 14(3): 221–249.

Smith, Barry A. (1971) The fishes of four low-salinity tidal tributaries of the Delaware River estuary., In: (Eds.) An Ecological Study of the Delaware River in the Vicinity of Artificial Island. , Ithaca, N.Y.. Pp. <missing location>

Smith, Hugh M. (1895) A review of the history and results of the attempts to acclimatize fish and other water animals in the Pacific states., Bulletin of the U. S. Fish Commission 15: 379-472

Sol, Sean Y.; Lomax, Daniel P. ; Hanson; Amanda C.; Corbett, Catherine; Johnson, Lyndal L. (2021) Fish communities in the tidal freshwater wetlands of the Lower Columbia River, Northwest Science 94(3-3): Published online

2003-2022 Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, FL.

Van Dyke, Erick, S. Storch, Adam J. Reesman, Martyne J. (2009) Seasonal composition and distribution of fish species in the lower Columbia slough; Completion Repor, City of Portland, Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland OR. Pp. <missing location>

Weisberg, Stephen; Himchak, Peter; Baum, Tom; Wilson, Harold T.; Allen, Russell (1996) Temporal trends in abundance of fish in the tidal Delaware River, Estuaries 19(3): 723-729

Whitworth, Walter R. (1968) Freshwater fishes of Connecticut, Bulletin, State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut 101: 1-134

Whitworth, Walter R. (1996) Freshwater fishes of Connecticut, State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut 114: 33-214