Redfin perch (Perca fluviatilis)

Other common names: European perch, redfin, English perch, Eurasian perch
Introduction

Redfin is a medium sized freshwater fish native to northern Europe. Redfin were first introduced to Australia in the 1860s for angling, and are now widespread across much of NSW, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, south-eastern South Australia and the south-western corner of Western Australia.

Redfin are popular with some anglers because of their fighting qualities and taste. However, they are also voracious predators of other fish and invertebrates, can destroy recreational fisheries in enclosed waters by building up large numbers of stunted fish and eliminating other species, and can devastate native fish populations by carrying the EHN virus. For these reasons, redfin are considered a serious pest in NSW.
Description & biology

Description: Redfin belong to the family Percidae. They can be recognised by the following features:

* a deep body and a slightly forked tail;
* two distinctly separate dorsal fins, the first with 12-17 strong spines and a distinct black blotch at the rear;
* a pattern of five or more broad black vertical bands across the back, tapering on the sides (more prominent in younger fish);
* bright reddish-orange pelvic and anal fins and tail.

The body colour varies from olive green to grey on the back, fading to greenish or silvery on the sides and whitish on the belly.

Redfin can grow to 60 cm in length and around 10 kg in weight, but are more commonly found up to 45 cm and 1-2 kg.

Habitat: Redfin live in a wide variety of habitats, but prefer still or slow-flowing waters such as lakes, dams, billabongs, swamps and slower moving streams and rivers. They prefer areas with good shelter such as snags (submerged dead wood and trees), vegetation or rocks, but have also been caught in open water.

Feeding: Redfin perch are carnivorous and feed on a wide variety of foods ranging from small invertebrates (such as crustaceans, worms, molluscs and insect larvae) to fish. They are known to hunt fish either solitarily (by ambushing or stalking their prey) or in organised groups. In groups, they herd shoals of small fish until encircled or pinned against the bank; a few of the redfin then chase into the shoal while the majority hold position and prey on fleeing fish. Schools of redfin also use a similar method known as “beating”, where they flush out insects and small fish from weed beds or other shelter into open water, where they become easy prey for waiting redfin. Such methods give them their reputation as voracious predators.

Reproduction: Redfin spawn in late winter and spring, when they lay several hundred thousand eggs in a gelatinous ribbon amongst aquatic vegetation, submerged logs or other sheltered areas. The egg mass is unpalatable to most other fish and is hence generally protected from predation. The eggs develop and hatch in about a week, and the young fish school to help avoid predation. Redfin usually take 2-6 years to reach sexual maturity, but some have been found to be reproductively mature at 1 year of age.


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Perch Redfin