Percina macrolepida

bigscale logperch



Type Locality

Guadalupe River, below dam at Kerrville State Park, 9.5 km e of Kerrville, Kerr Co., TX (Stevenson 1971).


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

Percina = little perch; macrolepida = big scales (Moyle 1976).






Maximum size: 95 mm SL (Page 1983).


Coloration: On the side of the body P. macrolepida has 15-20 narrow, long dark (green or green black) vertical bars which extend well onto the venter and on the caudal peduncle often (especially on juveniles) meet those of the opposite side. The bars also extend over the back and join those of the opposite side. Unlike those of P. caprodes and P. carbonaria, the lateral bars are not an alternating series of “whole” and “half” bars; the 15-20 bars are all about the same length. The upper half of the body and head is olive or straw colored; the lower half is cream colored. There is no distinct suborbital bar but there may be a diffuse black spot beneath the eye. Melanophores are often scattered over the venter. In the caudal and dorsal fins, concentrations of melanophores on the membranes form transverse bands. The first dorsal fin has tinges of yellow; the other fins are mostly clear. There is a black basicaudal spot. The breeding male develops a dark head and has suffusions of yellow or yellow orange on the body. The anal and paired fins are dusky (Page 1983). Hubbs et al. (1991) listed the following color characteristics for this species in Texas: Lateral bars thin, 14 to 16 whole bars (usually 15); midbars between whole bars long about equal to length of whole bars.


Counts: Lateral scales 77-79 (79-86; Page 1983; Hubbs et al. 1991); pored scales on caudle fin 0-1 (0); scales above lateral line 7-10 (7-8); scales below lateral line 10-14; transverse scales 18-27 (20-25); scales around caudle peduncle 27-32; dorsal spines 13-15 (14-15); dorsal rays 12-15 (14); pectoral rays 12-14 (13); anal spines 2; anal rays 7-10 (9); branchiostegal rays 6. Male has a complete row of about 25 modified scales along the belly midline (Page 1983).


Body shape: Elongate (Stevenson 1971); body depth contained in standard length less then seven times (Hubbs et al. 1991); relatively small head (mean head length/SL about 0.24; Page 1983).


Mouth position: Subterminal (Sublette et al. 1990), upper jaw not extending as far as to below the middle of the eye, snout conical extending beyond upper lip (Hubbs et al. 1991). Well developed teeth in several rows on premaxillary and in two rows on lower jaws; teeth in first row on both jaws often hooked and curved backwards; teeth scattered along the center of palate with a patch of teeth in two rows on the anterior part of the palatines; vomer has three rows of very small prickles (Stevenson 1971).


External morphology: Belly scaled (narrow naked band may be present on midline); preopercle smooth or weakly serrate (Hubbs et al. 1991); large scales (Stevenson 1971).


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution: The native range of P. macrolepida is considered to extend from the Sabine River of Louisiana and Red River of Oklahoma and Arkansas to the Rio Grande drainage of Texas, New Mexico (Pecos River), and Mexico (Buchanan and Stevenson 2003). In 1953, the species was accidentally imported into California from the Trinity River, Texas, and misidentified as P. caprodes; being correctly identified as P. macrolepida sometime later (Moyle 1976); species also introduced into Colorado (Platania, 1990; Fuller et al. 1999), and trans-basin introductions have occurred in New Mexico (Sublette et al. 1990) and Oklahoma (Cashner and Matthews 1988).


Texas distribution: Ranges from the Red and Sabine Basins in eastern Texas, south and west to the Devil’s River (Rio Grande Drainage; Hubbs et al.1991). Warren et al. (2000) list distribution of species in the following drainage units: Red River unit (from the mouth upstream to and including the Kiamichi River), Sabine Lake unit (including minor coastal drainages west to Galveston Bay), Galveston Bay unit (including minor coastal drainages west to mouth of Brazos River), Brazos River unit, Colorado River unit, San Antonio Bay unit (including minor coastal drainages west of mouth of Colorado River to mouth of Nueces River).


Abundance/Conservation status (Federal, State, NGO)

Not listed as threatened or endangered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

(2006). Populations in southern drainages are currently stable (Warren et al. 2000).


Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat: In Texas, species typically collected in large river habitats. However, P. macrolepida has been found in large numbers in lakes [Lake Nasworthy, Springfield Lake (Navasota River) and Lake Austin (Colorado River)] and in very small streams [N. Concho River below San Angelo Dam; headwaters of the Trinity River, etc.; (Stevenson 1971)].


Mesohabitat: In Texas, usually collected in the deep and rapid, yet nonturbulent waters of large river habitats, such as that found in the rubble-gravel raceway at the State Park locality in the Guadalupe River. Species seems to avoid turbulent riffles in any steam where found (Stevenson 1971). In a Texas study, P. macrolepida were collected from the San Antonio River, the majority of individuals being found in eddy pool and pool microhabitats and a small percentage found in “run bank snag” microhabitat (Edwards 1999). Simon and Kaskey (1992) collected individuals along the eastern shore of Eagle Mountain Lake (Trinity River drainage), Texas, over a silt substrate in water ranging from 6.1 – 7.6 m, and from the mouth of Fleming Slough, a backwater cove of Eagle Mountain Lake, over a sand substrate in water <3.0 – 4.7 m at temperatures ranging from 11.9 – 26.1 degrees C.  Throughout its range in Oklahoma, Colorado, and California, P. macrolepida occurs most commonly in quiet backwaters with little or no current and sand and silt substrates; species readily adapts to impoundments (Moyle 1976; Jackson 1984; Platania 1990). Can be abundant in impounded areas and is usually the only logperch present (Stevenson 1980). For example, in Dardanelle Reservoir (Arkansas River basin), P. macrolepida numerically dominated where habitat was characterized by sand and silt substrate, gravel uncommon, rip-rap banks, and no vegetation (Okane site), whereas P. caprodes, the logperch, was numerically dominant where the substrate was gravel, cobble, and boulder and vegetation dense (Panther Bay) (Buchanan and Stevenson 2003). Although reservoirs typically impact populations of many stream-adapted fishes adversely, block recolonization after local extirpations, and act as barriers to dispersal (Luttrell et al.1999), those factors have apparently not applied to P. macrolepida in the Arkansas River. Whether introduced or native, P. macrolepida apparently benefited from artificial habitats created by the Arkansas River Navigation System (Buchanan and Stevenson 2003).



Spawning season: Ripe females known to occur from 26 Feb. to 14 April [all from central Texas localities] (Stevenson 1971; Hubbs 1985); larval drift from Eagle Mountain Lake (Trinity River drainage), TX, during March to May substantiates reproductive seasons identified by Hubbs (1985) for central Texas (Simon and Kaskey 1992).  The occurrence of small individuals (ca 25 mm SL) in Lake Texoma in early June suggests a similar reproductive interval there (Hubbs 1985); in California, from April to June (Wang 1981).  


Spawning habitat: In aquaria, individuals collected from California sloughs have spawned in a vertical position, depositing the eggs on the stems of aquatic plants (Moyle 1976).


Reproductive strategy: In a California population, only 10 to 20 eggs are laid at each spawning; female spawned multiple times with different males over an extended period (Moyle 1976).


Fecundity: At an average size of 1.32 mm (range from 1.2-1.4 mm diameter), P. macrolepida eggs are described as being smaller than those of Texas populations of P. caprodes (those eggs ranging from 1.63-1.74 mm). Females of P. macrolepida from the State Park locality on the Guadalupe River, Texas, had eggs averaging 1.4 mm; a 72 mm female had 186 eggs in her compliment, and an 83 mm female had 365 eggs, these two individuals being the smallest and largest sized gravid females collected, respectively (Stevenson 1971). In California, eggs found ranging from 1.1-1.3 mm diameter; mature eggs were spherical, demersal, and adhesive; they contained a single oil globule (X = 0.30 mm), an unsculptured, transparent chorion, a wide perivitelline space, and a translucent pale yellow yolk; chorion was clear and nonpigmented (Wang 1981). In a series of hybrid crosses conducted by Hubbs (1967), eggs were successfully incubated between 19-25 degrees C.


Age at maturation:


Migration: Little seasonal migration (Stevenson 1971; 1980).


Growth and population structure: Larvae from Eagle Mountain Lake (Trinity River drainage), Texas hatched at 4.9 mm TL and had 22-26 preanal and 17-20 postanal myomeres (Simon and Kaskey 1992). In a California population, one year old fish ranged from 48-81 mm SL (mean 63 mm) and two year olds from 75-102 mm SL (mean 90mm). A single three year old fish was 104 mm SL (Moyle 1976).




Food habits:


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes

Member of the subgenus Percina, which includes P. caprodes and P. carbonaria, among others. In Texas, Percina macrolepida found sympatrically with P. caprodes in Colorado and Guadalupe Rivers, especially on marginal areas of the Edwards Plateau; found in large non-turbulent rivers such as in the Brazos, Trinity, and San Jacinto drainages and in lake habitats as Devils Lake (Devils River) and Lake Nasworthy (Concho River). P. macrolepida differs from P. caprodes in color pattern, with more and thinner lateral pigment bars, and in reduction of vertical subocular bar; P. macrolepida has larger scales than Texas P. caprodes, and smaller number of lateral line scales and diagonal scale rows; distinguished also by presence of scales on the breast, prepectoral areas, and supraoccipital region (Stevenson 1971). P. macrolepida may be more tolerant of a greater range in stream size and conditions, while P. caprodes seems more restricted to fast flowing, clear water. Hybridization of these two species appears minimal; hybrids had low fecundity: range of 30-84 ova in 3 females, from 70-81mm (Stevenson 1971; 1980). In contrast to other logperches, the supraoccipital region is scaled and there are at least some exposed scales on the breast (in addition to modified scales; Page 1983). P. macrolepida can be distinguished from Etheostoma lepidum by its conical snout; larger size; weakly notched caudal fin (rounded in E. lepidum); color pattern; presence in the male of a row of enlarged, spiny scales on the midline of the abdomen; and strong vertical bars along the sides (diffuse blotches along the side in E. lepidum). The presence of six or fewer branchiostegal rays will distinguish P. macrolepida from young walleye, Sander vitreum, and young yellow perch, Perca flavescens, which have seven or eight branchiostegal rays. Separate spiny and soft dorsal fins distinguish the P. macrolepida from the plains killifish, Fundulus zebrinus, which is also characterized by vertical barring but otherwise very dissimilar (Sublette et al. 1990).


Host Records



Commercial or Environmental Importance

[Additional literature noting collection of this species from Texas locations includes, but is not limited to the following: Stevenson and Thompson (1978); Lake Texoma (Texas-Oklahoma border; Gido et al. 2002).]



Buchanan, T.M. and M.M. Stevenson. 2003. Distribution of bigscale logperch, Percina macrolepida (Percidae) in the Arkansas River Basin. The Southwestern Naturalist 48(3):454-464.

Edwards, R.J. 1999. Ecological profiles for selected stream-dwelling Texas freshwater fishes II. Report to the Texas Water Development Board. 69 pp.

Gido, K.B., C.W. Hargrave, W.J. Matthews, G.D. Schnell, D.W. Pogue, and G.W. Sewell. 2002. Structure of littoral-zone fish communities in relation to habitat, physical, and chemical gradients in a southern reservoir. Environmental Biology of Fishes 63:253-263.

Hubbs, C. 1967. Geographic variations in survival of hybrids between etheostomine fishes. Bull. Texas Mem. Mus. 13:1-72.

Hubbs, C. 1985. Darter Reproductive Seasons. Copeia, 1985(1):56-68.

Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards and G.P. Garret. 1991. An annotated checklist of freshwater fishes of Texas, with key to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 43(4):1-56.

Jackson, D. C. 1984. Substrate preference of the bigscale logperch, Percina macrolepida (Percidae) in Lake Texoma, Oklahoma. Southwestern Naturalist 29:351–353.

Luttrell, G.R., A.A. Echelle, W.L. Fisher, and D. J. Eisenhour. 1999. Declining status of two species of the Macrhybopsis aestivalis complex (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) in the Arkansas River Basin and related effects of reservoirs as barriers to dispersal. Copeia 1999(4):981-989.

Moyle, P. B. 1976. Inland Fishes of California. University of California Press, Berkeley. 405 pp.

Page, L.M. 1983. Handbook of Darters. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, NJ. 271 pp.

Platania, S. P. 1990. Reports and verified occurrence of logperches (Percina caprodes and Percina macrolepida) in Colorado. Southwestern Naturalist 35:87–88.

Simon, T.P., and J.B. Kaskey. 1992. Description of eggs, larvae, and early juveniles of the bigscale logperch, Percina macrolepida Stevenson, from the West Fork of the Trinity River Basin, Texas. The Southwestern Naturalist 37(1):28-34.

Stevenson, M.M. 1971. Percina macrolepida (Pisces, Percidae, Etheostomatinea), a new percid fish of the subgenus Percina from Texas. Southwestern Naturalist 16(1):65-83.

Stevenson, M.M. 1980. Percina macrolepida (Girard), Bigscale logperch. pp. 727 in D.S. Lee et al. Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. N.C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, i-r+854 pp.

Stevenson, M.M., and B.A. Thompson. 1978. Further distribution records for the bigscale logperch, Percina macrolepida (Osteichthyes: Percidae) from Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana with notes on its occurrence in California. The Southwestern Naturalist 23(2):309-313.

Sublette, J. E., M. D. Hatch, and M. Sublette.1990. The Fishes of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque. 393 pp.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Wildlife Division, Diversity and Habitat Assessment Programs. County Lists of Texas' Special Species. [30 May 2006].

Wang, J.C.S. 1981. Taxonomy of the early life stages of fishes: fishes of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Estuary and Moss Landing HArbour-Elkhorn Slough, California. Ecological Analysts Publ., Concord. 168 pp.

Warren, M.L. Jr., B.M. Burr, S. J. Walsh, H.L. Bart Jr., R. C. Cashner, D.A. Etnier, B. J. Freeman, B.R. Kuhajda, R.L. Mayden, H. W. Robison, S.T. Ross, and W. C. Starnes. 2000. Diversity, distribution and conservation status of the native freshwater fishes of the southern United States. Fisheries 25(10):7-29.