Pirate perch are grayish with black speckles and have a narrow, vertical, dark bar at the base of the tail fin and under the eye. Pirate perch have a single dorsal fin and ctenoid scales (scales with ridged edges) on the head and body. The tail fin is slightly notched, not deeply forked. The gill cover has a sharp spine. Dorsal and anal fins each have 2 or 3 weak spines at front. The mouth is moderately large with a slightly projecting lower jaw. The lateral line (an additional sensory organ used to feel small vibrations) is underdeveloped in pirate perch from the Midwest, but specimens closer to the Atlantic coast show a much better developed lateral line. Also pirate perch are sexually dimorphic with females being larger and more full-bodied than males. Pirate perch are unusual in that their urogenital opening (opening for excretion and reproduction) is positioned far forward on their body and is actually located under the throat. This feature is not present in juveniles because the anus shifts forward with maturity.
Range length: 6.35 to 12.7 mm.
Average length: 6.1 mm.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes shaped differently
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