Pirate Perch Family


pirate perch

Pirate Perch (Aphredoderus sayanus sayanus)

Only one species of fish belongs to the unique Pirate Perch family. The pirate perch ranges from western Ohio and southern Michigan to Wisconsin, south through the Mississippi Valley to eastern Texas, along the gulf coast where the eastern and western subspecies integrate, through peninsular Florida and north on the Atlantic coast to eastern Long Island.

The pirate perch is a fish of weedy habitats and sluggish waters. During high flows, it seeks refuge under overhanging banks and in weed beds. The western form preferrs sluggish areas such as oxbows, marshes, and overflow ponds where the bottom is soft muck with much organic matter and timber debris.

The life history of the pirate perch does not seem to have been thoroughly studied. It has been reported that the pirate perch spaws in May in Illinois and builds a nest that is guarded by both parents. The parents also guard the young until they are about 0.3 inch long. It has also been reported that pirate perch spawn in April in Virginia.

Pirate perch feed on insects, mostly aquatic species with a few terrestrial forms, a few amphipods, isopods, aquatic oligochaetes, and some entomostracans. Some small fishes are also eaten. It is a nocturnal feeder, with peaks just after dark and just before dawn.

The western subspecies is apparently rate in New York and seems to be a relict species that has survived postglacial time in a few isolated pockets of favorable environment. Its nearest nighbors are in southwestern Ohio. The eastern subspecies is abundant at several localities on Long Island.


Distribution of pirate perch in NY state.

An image of the pirate perch is available for download.