The yellow perch is a highly valued food fish in the north-central region of the United States. Commercial harvests of yellow perch from the Great Lakes and Canada have failed to keep pace with market demands. This has resulted in high market value (up to $12 per pound for fillets, retail). Consumer demand for yellow perch has generated interest in the development of economical cultural methods.
The yellow perch is considered a coolwater species. A recent study at Kentucky State University demonstrated that the optimum temperature for growth of yellow perch to be 75 degrees F, closely matching summer (June-October) water temperatures in ponds in Kentucky.
Previous research at KSU with yellow perch has also indicated that high stocking densities may be advantageous by stimulating feeding activity therefore allowing for maximum growth. Yellow perch may have potential for use under cage culture conditions. Yellow perch should be fed a high quality floating diet containing approximately 40% protein and 10% fat and should be fed to satiation twice daily.
Yellow perch are amenable to pond culture and should be considered as a species having culture potential in Kentucky. Pond production of yellow perch should take approximately 18 months to harvest size (0.25 pound) in Kentucky. Fingerling costs are high when dealing with genetically small fish such as yellow perch; for example yellow perch fingerlings cost $0.25.
If four fingerlings are required to produce one pound of fish at harvest, fingerling costs would be $1.00 per pound of yellow perch produced. Processing costs would also be higher. Some obstacles related to the culture potential of yellow perch in Kentucky are that markets within Kentucky are currently limited, mainly due to a lack of consumer awareness.
Also, yellow perch are not indigenous to most of Kentucky and the Department of Fish and Wildlife are concerned about the potential of introducing yellow perch in public waters.
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