Chordates •

Silver perch

(Bidyanus bidyanus)



The silver perch (Bidyanus bidyanus) is a medium-sized freshwater fish of the family Terapontidae endemic to the Murray-Darling river system in south-eastern Australia. The silver perch is a large grunter with a small head, small eyes, a small mouth at the end of a pointed 'beak-like' snout. The species is streamlined and laterally compressed, with a spiny dorsal fin of medium height, angular soft dorsal and anal fins and a forked tail. Large specimens become very deep bodied with a large hump behind the head. In terms of colouration, they are dark grey to silvery greyish-brown on the back, silver-grey on the sides, with darker scale margins giving a checkered pattern; the belly is whitish; the dorsal and caudal fins are dark, the pelvic fins white. Silver perch are schooling mid-water fish with a preference for flowing water. Though nowadays found in the lowland reaches of the Murray-Darling system, they originally had a strong presence in the slope and upland reaches of many Murray-Darling rivers as well. In particular, they had a strong presence in upland reaches of the Murrumbidgee River and were originally found as far upstream as Cooma. As recently as the early 1980s, long summer migrations into the upland reaches of the Murrumbidgee were an annual event. Unfortunately these migrations, and these populations, have now collapsed silver perch are functionally extinct in the Murrumbidgee River now, as in most parts of their former range. Silver perch have been introduced into the Lake Eyre Basin in arid central Australia. These releases were not officially sanctioned and pose serious hybridisation risks to closely related species of terapontids endemic to the Lake Eyre system. A translocated and reproducing population of silver perch exists in Cataract Dam on the Hawkesbury-Nepean system. This population was established by NSW Fisheries translocations of juvenile fish from drying billabongs in the lower Murrumbidgee River in approximately 1915-17. The Cataract Dam population is unique in being the only population of silver perch in an artificial impoundment that regularly and successfully recruits and is self-sustaining.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Actinopterygii
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