Wildlife - Species

Silver Perch (Bairdiella chrysoura)


Silver perch are among the smaller members of the drum family (Sciaenidae) and common in South Carolina estuaries. They have oval-shaped bodies and no barbels. Their coloration is relatively plain, with an olive, green or bluish back and a silvery white belly. Fins are all yellowish, with the dorsal, caudal and sometimes the tip of the anal fin somewhat darker. Silver perch have a few strong spines at the angle of the preopercle, the largest of which point down.

Preferred Habitat and Biology

Silver perch also belong to the sciaenid family. They spawn during the late spring and early summer inside the estuary, usually in the deeper sections of smaller tidal creeks in the higher salinity areas. Eggs and larvae remain in the estuary, and when larvae become capable of active swimming, they settle in the shallow tidal creeks. This habitat is also the silver perch's nursery area, and the young feed on small decapod crustaceans and fishes. During the fall, silver perch move from the shallow marsh habitat into the deeper creeks and main part of the estuaries of the ACE Basin. During high tide, the larger silver perch move into the tidal creeks, where they feed on grass shrimps. As the tide drops, they move back out into deeper water.

Species Significance

No commercial or recreational fisheries exist for this species. However, pier fishers often catch silver perch and use them for bait or for personal consumption. They are a forage fish for larger predatory fish such as spotted seatrout and red drum and also are an important food source for many birds.


Bearden, C.M. 1961. Common marine fishes of South Carolina. Bears Bluff Lab Contribution No. 34. Bears Bluff Laboratory, Inc., Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina.

Johnson, G.D. 1978. Development of fishes of the mid-Atlantic Bight: an atlas of egg, larval and juvenile stages. Volume IV: Carrangidae through Ephippidae. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Biological Services FWS/OBS-78/12. Ft. Collins, CO.

Murdy, E.O., R.S. Birdsong, and J.A. Musick. 1997. Fishes of the Chesapeake Bay. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.

Wenner, C. 1998. Personal communication. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Charleston, SC.