Habitat

Fishes in the families Centrarchidae and Elassomatidae live in strictly freshwater habitats. Centrarchids prefer a temperate climate, and are especially common to lakes, streams, and other inland waterways in the northern United States and Canada. Many seek out weedy areas or other protective cover, such as swamps with fallen trees. Elassomatids similarly inhabit swampy areas with heavy vegetation, but favor the warmer environs of the southeastern United States.

The large family Percidae is primarily a freshwater group, with species in just about every type of waters, from lakes and swamps to both fast- and slow-moving streams and other bodies of water. Some live in the brackish waters of estuaries and in salt lakes. Moronids are the most versatile of the four families in regard to habitat, with members existing in fresh, brackish, and marine waters along coasts.

Various species within these families may coexist in a single body of water. For example, a typical inland lake in the Great Lakes region may be home to numerous species, including largemouth bass, bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), and

Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) cleaning the eggs in its nest. (Illustration by Emily Damstra)
Two males and one female (large, center fish) walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) spawning. (Illustration by Emily Damstra)

others in the family Centrarchidae, as well as the yellow perch (Perca flavescens), walleye, and others in the Percidae.

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