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Michigan Item: Year-Round School

Issue #3

Audio file

School is not just for people. Many fish travel in schools. A school is a group of fish moving in the same direction. Yellow perch travel in schools all year long!

Schools of perch can be found in large and small lakes all over Michigan. They get their name from the yellow color of their sides. They also have five to nine dark bars on their sides. The average length of adult yellow perch is 4 to 10 inches. 

Yellow perch go to “school” for safety. Many predators (preh-dah-ters) like to eat perch. A predator is an animal that lives by killing and eating other animals. A group of small fish can confuse a bigger fish. A school makes it hard for a predator to grab just one fish.

It is also easier for yellow perch to find food in a school. Most schools have 50 to 200 fish. That is a lot of eyes looking for food! Yellow perch like to eat insects, crayfish, and the eggs of other fish.

Fish school is dismissed when it gets dark. Once the yellow perch can’t see each other, they move apart. They go to the bottom of the lake and stop moving. In the morning, they return to their school and move to deeper water. Yellow perch are one of the few Great Lakes fish that stay active in winter under the ice.

The photo of the yellow perch school is from FishOnFilm Productions, Inc. The drawing of a perch is from
school of yellow perch

Above is a picture of a school of yellow perch. Below is a drawing of a yellow perch.

illustration of a yellow perch