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Shiner Perch Cymatogaster aggregata


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Shiner Perch
credit: NOAA

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Family: Embiotocidae, Surfperches view all from this family

Description The shiner perch Cymatogaster aggregata is a common surfperch (Embiotocidae) found in estuaries, lagoons, and coastal streams along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Baja California. It is the sole member of its genus.

Shiner perches are similar to tule perches, deep-bodied with a dusky greenish back and silvery sides that have a pattern combining fine horizontal bars with three broad yellow vertical bars. Breeding males turn almost entirely black, the barred pattern being obscured by dark speckles. Shiner perches are distinguished from tule perches by having fewer dorsal fin spines, just 8-9 vs the 15-19 of the tule perch. The rayed part of the dorsal fin has 18 to 23 rays. The anal fin has 3 spines followed by 22-25 rays.

They are one of the most common fish in the bays and estuaries of their range, favoring beds of eelgrass, and often accumulating around piers as well. They feed on zooplankton such as copepods, but have been observed to bottom feed as well.

The first scientific description of the shiner perch was published in the same newspaper as the tule perch; see that article for details.

Dimensions Up to 8" (20 cm).

Habitat Estuaries, tidal flats & salt marshes, Ocean or bay shallows, Tidepools.

Range California, Northwest, Western Canada, Alaska.