• Family: Aphredoderidae (Pirate Perches)
• Other Names: None
• Ohio Status: Endangered
• Adult Size: Typically 2-4 inches, can reach 5 inches.
• Typical Foods: Feeds on insect larvae, crustaceans, and a few small fish.
The pirate perch is a small dark brown or nearly black fish that can have a purple sheen to the sides. There is a dark tear drop shaped marking under the eye. Their anus is positioned just behind the throat well in front of the anal fin. All other Ohio species of fish have the anal opening positioned just in front of the anal fin. They have 1-3 very small spines at the front of their dorsal and anal fins and do not have an adipose fin (small fleshy fin just in front of their tail on their back). Pirate perch have a large mouth and ruff scales.
Habitat and Habits
Pirate perch are found in very slow moving heavily vegetated streams, oxbows, or marshes. They are found in areas with dense vegetation and a soft bottom made up of organic debris and muck free of yellow clay silts. They spend the day hiding in dense vegetation or organic debris and come out at night to feed. In Ohio this species likely was once abundant in the Great Black Swamp area of northwest Ohio. Since nearly all of the marsh and swamplands have been drained this species likely no longer exists in Ohio. They were last seen in the Auglaize River system around 1950.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
The spawning habits of pirate perch are not fully understood. Some research suggests they guard a nest site, possibly even both parents. Others have suggested they actually carry their eggs in their mouth until hatching. However, recent captive breeding projects have found this not to be the case.