Silver Perch, Bidyanus bidyanus (Mitchell 1838)

Other Names: Bagguck, Bidyan, Bidyan Grunter, Bipe, Black Bream, Buruitjall, Gambaal, Grunter, Karpa, Kooberry, Kupé, Murray Bream, Murray Perch, Silver Bream, Sooty Grunter, Tcheri, Teheree, Tooroo

Silver Perch, Bidyanus bidyanus. Source: Gunther Schmida / License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0


A large dark greyish to silvery greyish-brown grunter with darker silvery scale margins giving a reticulated pattern, and a whitish belly. The dorsal and caudal fins are dark, and the pelvic fins are white. Juveniles are mottled with darker vertical bars.

Video of Silver Perch in the Sydney Aquarium

Silver Perch have a small head, small eyes, a small mouth at the end of a pointed 'beak-like' snout, and a finely serrated preopercular bone on the gill cover. This is the largest terapontid in Australia.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2021, Bidyanus bidyanus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Silver Perch, Bidyanus bidyanus (Mitchell 1838)

More Info


Widespread throughout much of the Murray-Darling River System (approx. 150-140°00'E), and introduced into the Lake Eyre Basin. Historically, Silver Perch were one of the most widespread fish in the MDB. However, populations declined, and the species is now sparsely distributed across a large proportion of its former range.

Inhabits freshwater rivers, lakes and reservoirs, particularly in areas of high water flow. Hatchery raised Silver Perch have been stocked in impoundments and river systems in parts of their range.

The Silver Perch, once one of the most common fish species within the Murray Darling Basin, has experienced a significant decline in distribution and abundance throughout most of its range (Clunie & Koehn 2001).

Silver Perch migrate over large distances, moving between rivers and their tributaries.


Dorsal fin XII-XIII, 11-13; Anal fin III, 7-9; Pectoral fin 16-17; Pelvic fin I, 5; Vertebrae 10-14; Gill rakers 8-10 + 1 + 13-16; Transverse scales 12-14/1/24-27.

Body elongate, oblong to ovate, depth 2.9-3.5 in SL; maximum body width 1.9-2.1 in body depth; slightly compressed in young, distinctly compressed in adults; dorsal profile more pronounced than ventral, straight from snout to nape, then convex to dorsal origin; ventral profile convex from tip of lower jaw to pelvic insertion, then straight to anus. Head length 3.3-3.9 in SL; eye width 4.4-5.3 in HL; snout length 3.1-3.7 in HL. Jaws equal or upper slightly longer; gape slightly oblique; maxillary reaching to vertical through region between posterior nostril and front of eye; jaw length 3.6-4.0 in HL; teeth conical, slightly depressible, villiform, with outer row larger and followed by an inner band; teeth absent from vomer and palatines. Interorbital region smooth. Nostrils separated by a distance equal to diameter of posterior nostril. Lacrimal serrate. Preoperculum serrate; serrations largest on posterior edge. Lower opercular spine longer and stronger; not extending beyond opercular lobe. Posttemporal exposed; serrate along posterior edge. Cleithrum exposed; serrate posteriorly, scales on side. Supracleithrum exposed.

Scales finely ctenoid; lateral line continuous, smoothly curved; 76-79 scales counted in a series above lateral line; 71-77 scales counted in a series below lateral line; 6-8 scales on caudal; 12-14 scales above lateral line; scales below lateral line; 20-23 predorsal scales to occiput; three rows of scales in sheath at base of dorsal fin, sheath extending across base of entire fin; 3-4 rows of scales in sheath at base of anal fin, sheath extending across base of all rays; cheek scales in 7-10 rows.

Dorsal fin continuous; length of base 1.8-2.0 in SL; spinous dorsal arched, sixth or seventh spine longest, those following decreasing in length gradually to penultimate, which is about same length as last; longest dorsal spines longer than longest dorsal rays; longest dorsal spine 1.4-1.9 in HL; longest dorsal ray 1.9-2.2 in HL; soft dorsal rounded.  Second anal spine strongest and longest; as long as or slightly longer than longest anal rays, 1.6-2.1 in HL, longest anal ray 1.7-1.8 in HL, posterior margin of soft anal obliquely truncate. Pectoral fins pointed; fourth or fifth ray longest. Pelvic fins pointed; first ray longest and drawn out into a filament; reaching two-thirds of distance to anus. Caudal fin emarginate.


Reaches 40 cm SL and 8 kg; commonly to 30 cm.


Dark grey to greyish-brown above, sides silver, with dark scale margins giving a reticulated pattern; underside pale; dorsal and caudal fins grey, pelvic fins white. Juveniles mottled with darker vertical bars


Omnivore - feeds on insect larvae, molluscs, annelid worms and algae.


Oviparous pelagic spawners. Silver Perch move upstream to spawn and breeding is initiated by a combination of rising water temperatures and water levels.

Silver Perch are a slow-growing and long-lived species, living to more than 17 years of age. An individual recorded from the Cataract Dam, ACT, was 27 years old.


This popular angling and food fish is also aquacultured in farm dams. The species is renowned by anglers as a fast and strong fighting fish.

Historically, Silver Perch formed a significant part of the inland commercial fishery of New South Wales, and were regularly taken by anglers throughout the State.


  • EPBC Act 1999 : Critically Endangered
  • IUCN Red List : Vulnerable
  • ACT: Listed as Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 2014 (Australian Capital Territory): June 2015 list)
  • NSW: Listed as Vulnerable (Fisheries Management Act 1994 (New South Wales): November 2014 list)
  • VIC: Listed as Threatened (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): April 2015 list)
  • Populations in the wild may have declined due habitat change and degradation including the building of barriers to migration, egg mortality and spawning failures from lack and water movement and cold water releases from dams, competition from introduced species and the diseases they carry.


    Silver Perch were called bidyan by the Gamilaraay and/or Yuwaalaraay Indigenous language group where the type specimens were collected. The species is also known as Tooroo (Morunde language group), Teheree (Ngarrindjeri language group), Kooberry (Wiradjuri language group), Kupé (Ngunnawal language group), and Bagguck, Karpa, Buruitjall, Bipe (all Jari Jari language group). (Bennett 1834; Trueman 2011)

    Similar Species

    Silver Perch can be distinguished from other members of the family Terapontidae in having depressible but unflattened teeth, 20-25 predorsal scales to the occiput, a maximum body width of 1.9-2.1 in body depth, 76-79 scales counted in a series above the lateral line and 71-77 scales below.


    The specific name bidyan was used for this species by the Aboriginal people of the area between the Gwydir and McIntyre Rivers - the type locality.

    Species Citation

    Acerina (Cernua) bidyana Mitchell 1838, Three Expeditions Into the interior of Eastern Australia, with descriptions of recently explored regions of Australia Felix and the present colony of New South Wales. 1: 95. Type locality: River between Gwydir and McIntyre Rivers, New South Wales.


    Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2021


    Atlas of Living Australia

    Silver Perch, Bidyanus bidyanus (Mitchell 1838)


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    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37321008

    Behaviour:Highly migratory

    Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened; ASFB Vulnerable

    Fishing:Aquaculture & angling fish


    Max Size:40 cm SL, 8 kg


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