Silver Perch

Silver Perch, Bairdiella chrysoura

The Silver Perch, Bairdiella chrysoura, whose common Spanish name is ronco amarillo, is a member of the Croaker or Sciaenidae Family, known collectively as berrugatas and corvinas in Mexico. This fish is also known as the American Silver Perch and the Silver Croaker. Globally, there are five species in the genus Bairdiella, two of which are found in Mexican waters of the Pacific.

The Silver Perch have elongated rectangular bodies. They are silvery with bluish or greenish tinges dorsally and transition to bright silvery or yellow ventrally. Their anal, pectoral, and pelvic fins are dusky or with yellow tinges. Their anal fins have two spines, the second being thin and two-thirds the length of the first ray, and 8 to 10 rays; their caudal fin is slightly pointed or straight; and their dorsal fins are deeply notched and have 10 or 11 spines and 19 to 23 rays. Their head is narrow with large eyes. Their mouth is terminal, moderately-large, and oblique and ends under the rear margin of the eyes. Their projecting lower jaw is equipped with small conical teeth set in narrow bands on the upper jaw and as a single row on the lower jaw. They lack barbels but have three pairs of pores on their chin. Their preopercules have a few spines set at an angle. They have exceptional hearing when compared to other fish. They have 22 to 24 gill rakers. Their lateral line ends at the center of the caudal fin. They are covered with rough scales.

The Silver Perch are found demersal in brackish and freshwater coastal waters over sandy and muddy bottoms at depths up to 125 feet. They reach a maximum length of 30 cm (12 inches). They migrate seasonally to feeding and nursery areas in estuaries and freshwater during the summer months. They feed on crustaceans and small fish. They have a lifespan of up to six years. They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Silver Perch are found along the central and northwest coasts of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Silver Perch is most likely confused with the Sand Seatrout, Cynoscion arenarius (one or two prominent canine teeth on upper jaw; no chin pores).

The Silver Perch are caught regularly by recreational anglers but are not a focus species. They are caught commercially with pound nets, seines, and bottom trawls. They are sold commercially as live bait and for food on a limited basis. Although small in stature, they are an excellent food fish. From a conservation perspective they are currently considered of Least Concern being abundant and having a wide distribution range.

Silver Perch, Bairdiella chrysoura. Fish caught from coastal waters within the Manatee River, Bradenton, Florida, January 2013. Length: 20.3 cm (8.0 inches). Catch, photo, and identification courtesy of Kenneth Tse, Toronto, Canada.