Percina caprodesLog perch(Also: Manitou darter; Zebra fish)

Geographic Range

Percina caprodes (logperch) is found in North America as far north as the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and Mississippi River basin areas to as far south as Gulf of Mexico drainages. Logperch are found rarely in the Great Plains and areas west of the Mississippi, but extensively along Atlantic drainages in the United States. (Page and Burr, 1991)


Logperch are found in freshwater benthic habitats, primarily the shallow waters of rivers and creeks. They are also found in large rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Logperch prefer clean riffles and can be found among the sand and gravel of fast moving streams and waters. Logperch lay their eggs in sand in lake shallows, or in gravel or sand in swift current, often in riffles, or in streams. (Page, 1983; Page, 1983)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • benthic
  • lakes and ponds
  • rivers and streams
  • Range depth
    0.5 to 10 m
    1.64 to 32.81 ft
  • Average depth
    5 m
    16.40 ft

Physical Description

Logperch have a unique tiger-like coloration which distinguishes them from other darters. Logperch have a pale-yellow base color, with narrow bars on the side and back. The head and snout are also uniquely conical for turning stones and sand. Logperch are not sexually dimorphic, and both males and females reach a maximum length of 15 to 18 centimeters. During spawning males can develop alternate coloring to help attract females, but otherwise expression of dichromatism is low. (Hubbs, 1985) Like all members of the Percidae family, logperch have two, separate dorsal fins, the first is spiny and the second is soft. They also have one to two anal spines and an opercular spine. (Hubbs, 1985; Page, 1983)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • male more colorful
  • Range mass
    13 to 19 g
    0.46 to 0.67 oz
  • Average mass
    15 g
    0.53 oz
  • Range length
    13 to 18 cm
    5.12 to 7.09 in
  • Average length
    15 cm
    5.91 in


Logperch eggs hatch in about 8 days at 16.5 C, 5 to 7 days at 21 to 23 C. Logperch experience no intermediate stages nor metamorphosis; their appearance after hatching is very similar to adults. Logperch are sexually mature in 2 years, rarely after 1 (Page 1983, Becker 1983). Maximum breeding age of females is normally 3 years (Bart and Page 1992). (Bart and Page, 1992; Becker, 1983; Page, 1983)


Logperch exhibit external fertilization. Females are open water or substratum egg scatterers and neither males nor females guard the eggs after fertilization (Page and Burr, 1991). Female logperch bury eggs in sand or gravel substrates. Males swim up beside them and release milt to fertilize the eggs. Hiding the eggs helps protect against predators, such as other fish species, crayfishes, and aquatic insects. Sometimes multiple males will fertilize the eggs. (Page and Burr, 1991; Platania, 1990)

Spawning competition among males can be quite aggressive. Male logperch have been observed ramming and biting each other while competing for a female. During the breeding season males can become brilliantly colored. Unlike many darters, especially those in the genus Etheostoma, male logperches do not develop bright, gaudy colors. Instead, the subdued male logperch bears a prominent orange band along the first dorsal fin margin. Likewise, the dark pigments become more contrasting, changing from brown or olive to jet black (Burkhead, 2003) (Burkhead, 2005)

Logperch are broadcast spawners, spawning in shallow freshwater streams and ponds, often in swiftly moving water such as riffles. Eggs are laid in sand or gravel by females then fertilized by milt (fish sperm) released by males over the eggs (Page 1983). (Page, 1983)

  • Breeding interval
    Logperch breed frequently during the warm months of spring and summer.
  • Breeding season
    Logperch spawn in warm spring and summer months depending on area.
  • Average time to hatching
    8 days
  • Average time to hatching
    7 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years

Beyond laying and fertilizing eggs, logperch exhibit no parental investment.

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


Logperch have a typical lifespan of 3 to 4 years for both males and females. (Page and Burr, 1991)


Logperch, like all darters, are not schooling fish. Instead, logperch can be found either traveling alone or in small groups (Burkhead, 2005). They are mobile fish, usually foraging long stretches of river or streambed for food. Logperch have a foraging behavior that makes them unique, compared to other darters: the ability to use their conical snouts and heads to flip stones and sand in search of food. Researchers are not sure how early this foraging behavior develops, but it is present in all juvenile logperches (Hatch, 1983). Adult logperch that are actively foraging may flip 7 to 10 stones per minute (Burkhead, 2005). During the breeding season males become brilliantly colored. Unlike many darters, especially those in the genus Etheostoma, male logperches do not develop bright, gaudy colors. Instead, the subdued male logperch bears a prominent orange band along the first dorsal fin margin. Likewise, dark pigments become darker, changing from brown or olive to jet black (Hubbs, 1985). (Burkhead, 2005; Hatch, 1983; Hubbs, 1985)

Home Range

While foraging for food, marked logperch have been recorded traveling about 1.6 kilometers up and downstream from their original point of capture. Like most small fish, logperch do not stray too far from their original spawning point (Burkhead, 2005). (Burkhead, 2005)

Communication and Perception

Visual cues are used in mating. When mating is about to occur, both male and female logperch vibrate to release eggs and sperm. Logperch have a lateral line system, helping them to detect water movement.

Food Habits

Juvenile logperch have a diet consisting of rotifers, copepods, and waterfleas. As they grow, logperch incorporate a greater variety of small aquatic creatures. They feed on primarily aquatic insects (especially mayfly (Ephemeroptera) and midge larvae (Chironomidae)), but also young snails, waterfleas, leeches, and fish eggs (including their own) when available. (Page, 1983)

  • Animal Foods
  • fish
  • eggs
  • insects
  • mollusks
  • terrestrial worms
  • aquatic or marine worms
  • aquatic crustaceans


Logperch play a vital role in the food chain of lakes and streams, being food for larger piscivorous fish. Logperch that live in shallow streams and ponds also fall prey to piscivorous birds. The logperch's tiger-like coloring camouflages them to look like the riverbeds they lives on. (Hatch, 1983)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Logperch are a vital part of stream, river, and lake ecosystems by providing food for larger piscivorous fish. They themselves feed primarly on aquatic insects. Logperch are also a good indicator of ecological stability in a given area. Low numbers of logperch can indicate poor water quality or insufficient insect prey.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Logperch are prey species for larger piscivorous fishes. Many fish that feed on logperch are used extensively by humans as game fish, including largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), and walleye (Sander vitreus) (Platania 1990). (Hatch, 1983)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

This species does not adversely affect humans.

Conservation Status

Logperch have no special status as endangered or otherwise.


Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

William Spalding (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Kevin Wehrly (editor, instructor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


Referring to an animal that lives on or near the bottom of a body of water. Also an aquatic biome consisting of the ocean bottom below the pelagic and coastal zones. Bottom habitats in the very deepest oceans (below 9000 m) are sometimes referred to as the abyssal zone. see also oceanic vent.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


active at dawn and dusk


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

external fertilization

fertilization takes place outside the female's body


union of egg and spermatozoan


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


mainly lives in water that is not salty.


having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others


uses sight to communicate


Bart, H., L. Page. 1992. The influence of size and phylogeny on life history variation in North American percids.. Stanford, Calfiornia: Stanford Univ. Press.

Becker, G. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin.. Madison, Wisconsin: Univ. Wisconsin Press.

Burkhead, N. 2005. "FISC - Center for Aquatic Resource Studies" (On-line). Accessed October 14, 2005 at

Hatch, J. 1983. Comparative Growth, Reproduction, Habitat and Food Utilization of Darters of the St. Croix River Drainage.. Minnesota: MN DNR, Section of Wildlife, Nongame Research Program.


Page, L. 1983. Handbook of Darters. Neptune City, New Jersey: T. F. H. Pub., Inc..

Page, L., B. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico.. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Platania, S. 1990. Reports and verified occurrence of logperches (PERCINA CAPRODES) and PERCINA MACROLEPIDA) in Colorado.. Southwestern Naturalist, 35: 87-88.