Raising Perch at Home (Homestead farming for food independence)

Raising perch at home has become a popular option for those looking for sustainable farming methods. Homesteading and farming your own fish is an attractive proposition, especially in areas where there are limited sources of wild-caught perch.

With dwindling wild perch populations in the great lakes, it’s more important and viable than ever to raise your own perch for food and for sale.

Perch have long been valued for their firm, white and flaky flesh. The taste of perch has always been its main attraction and it is one of the few warm-water fish whose taste rivals that of any cold-water fish like trout or salmon, but the flakiness of the meat takes the top spot amongst all competitors!

In a world where we see increasing food costs, decreasing natural food sources, and a decrease in food availability and variety, it’s encouraging to be able to provide your own high-quality protein on a predictable and reliable schedule despite food price increases and supply chain problems.

With the right practices and techniques, you can successfully produce delicious, healthy fish with minimal effort and cost.

In this article, I’ll outline the basic steps required for farming perch at home in your own tank, pond, or pool that can help you enjoy fresh seafood while helping sustain your household and even local economies.

Can You Raise Your Own Perch?

You certainly can raise perch in your own backyard with a relatively low start-up cost and few barriers to entry. Raising perch can be done in a tank, pond, or pool either in your backyard or even in your home.

Unlike other popular fish species you might raise such as trout or salmon, perch don’t require as much finessing of exact pH levels and cool water temperatures.

If you have an old in-ground swimming pool or any above-ground pool as well, you should be able to create a very favorable perch habitat. If you have a pond, so much the better.

While many fish farmers use natural ponds to grow perch, just as many use the water from those ponds to circulate through large, plastic fish tanks.

Can Perch Be Farmed on Land?

Not only can perch be farmed on land, but there is a very strong trend in the world of commercial perch farming to raise perch hundreds and even thousands of miles away from any large body of water like an ocean or great lake.

Closed environment (aka. “closed containment system”) perch farming is the process by which perch are raised without direct contact with any outside natural body of water.

This is the most common method of perch farming.

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Here’s a typical part of a commercial perch farming operation. You can operate with just one above-ground pool in a barn (all year) or an in-ground pool outdoors that won’t freeze through

The water quality is maintained and fish are not exposed to diseases, parasites, pollution, poor food quality or any negative outside influences while being exposed to superior water quality and superior food quality.

Farmed perch is sold at a premium price to wild-caught perch.

The superior quality of land-farmed perch is exactly what you’ll have access to when you raise your own!

Can You Raise Perch in a Pond?

Perch can be raised in a pond quite successfully as long as water quality, quantity, depth and conditions are provided and maintained to the recommended specifications for perch.

While sizes and depths can vary according to specific conditions, here is a good starting point for how to make your own perch pond:

As with most fish species, the more water you can give them, the better. Ideally, you would provide them with a natural outdoor pond of 1 acre and a muddy or gravelly bottom with lots of weeds for algae and food sources to grow as well as a location to spawn (lay eggs).

If you live in a Northern climate that freezes in the Winter, the depth of your pond should be at least 8 – 10 feet if not a few feet deeper. Even in warmer climates, the deeper the pond, the easier it is for the perch to find the most suitable water temperature for their annual life-cycle stage.

As far as the area or dimensions of the pond are concerned, the larger the pond, the better. It’s not good to have such a small pond that fish can hardly move. A good suggested size would be that of a medium-sized swimming pool of around 450 feet as a surface area (approx. 15′ x 30′) and an average depth of 5-6 feet minimum.

To make your own pond, it’s best to have some knowledge about using a backhoe, digging procedures and construction protocol. You’ll have to contact the local authorities to find out if there are any restrictions to making a pond as well as any potential problems with pre-existing buried cables.

After you’ve dug the pond and finessed the shape and base, walls, etc. it’s best to line the dirt floor and walls with a fine concrete. Mason’s concrete is a good example, but nearly any concrete will do.

As the next step, some suggest lining the concrete (especially if it’s roughly finished with stones and other rough protrusions) with landscape fabric. The fabric will be a barrier between the rough concrete surface and the next (and final) layer.

The final layer of your perch Pond will be a pond or tank liner to hold all the water efficiently.

Once you’ve completed the pond itself, you’ll need a way to add oxygen to the water since perch (like any species) will need a source of oxygenated water. Thankfully, perch need much less oxygenation than trout or salmon.

The best way to do that is by using either an aeration kit or a pond pump which is used to create an artificial waterfall that oxygenates the water.

PRO TIP – When filling the pond with a hose, be sure to allow the water to gently enter the pond rather than blasting a concentrated flow in one place. The concentrated stream can damage the thin concrete layer under the liner.

You can let it gently seep in from a hose on the edge of the pond until there is enough water to shoot it directly onto the surface.

Can You Raise Perch in a Swimming Pool?

Perch can be raised in a swimming pool though it’s best only to use an above-ground pool for seasonal farming rather than a permanent, four-season environment. Above-ground pools are often used in tropical locations like Hawaii or the Southern US mainland.

In-ground pools are less affected by freezing conditions (than above-ground pools) and the water temperature will fluctuate less. In-ground pools are often converted into aquaculture environments for perch farming since the switch from family swimming pool to fish pool is a small one compared to making an in-ground fish pool from scratch.

Ideally, pools should have aquatic plants in them (great environment for perch food – algae, aquatic insects, smaller fish, etc.) and should be at least 8 feet deep in a portion of the pool (just like a regular in-ground swimming pool).

Can You Raise Perch in a Fish Tank?

Perch can be raised in any environment that provides the right conditions for their survival and ability to thrive. A fish tank can be used to raise perch though most tanks are far too small to successfully (ethically, physically) raise healthy perch.

I have not raised perch in my indoor aquarium, but I’ve done a lot of research and have found lots of “red flags” when it comes to raising perch in a glass tank indoors.

Firstly, your tank should resemble their natural habitat which is weedy with lots of cover. Not only that, but the size of your tank should be as large as possible.

One suggested scenario is a 150 L tank to raise FOUR perch. This volume of water is easily enough to sustain such a small quantity of perch, but raising 4 perch in a huge tank is not practical if you’re looking for a good return on investment for food.

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Raising perch in an aquarium is certainly possible, but yellow perch will not grow to the size they would in an outdoor pond or large indoor pool.

The other problem is that even if you only have a few perch in a large aquarium, their growth will still be limited compared to a larger environment like a natural lake or even a commercial-sized tank or pool.

If you’re serious about raising perch as food fish, it’s best to use a small swimming pool-sized containment system of several thousand liters.

Best Species of Perch to Raise

In North America, Yellow Perch is the perch of choice because they are the most common in much of the Great Lakes region and throughout Canada and the Northern U.S. states. If you live in Canada or the U.S. and you’re looking to grow perch, it’s almost a given that you’ll choose Yellow Perch (though some really like White Perch).

In the rest of the world, perch species vary significantly, with Redfin and Silver perch being common in Australia, for example.

A quick Google search will reveal more than 40 different species of perch commonly found worldwide.

Can You Farm Perch Anywhere?

Because Perch require specific water conditions (including a water temperature range of around 77ºF or lower), you’ll be able to farm them anywhere where you can be sure water temperatures won’t go above this range significantly and/or for a prolonged duration.

It’s suggested that you raise perch in regions to which that species of perch is native in the wild in order to take advantage of the best environmental conditions such as water and air temperatures, seasons and food.

IMPORTANT: Raising perch is more difficult than many other species for several reasons of note. Firstly, they will eat their young if not raised with others of the same size and age. They are also notoriously difficult to raise from eggs to fingerlings because they like live food during their early growth stages and often will not even eat pellets once they are old enough to do so.

Best Water Conditions for Raising Perch

Perch can survive in an environment with lots of variability in pH levels and temperature as well as water clarity. Most perch aquariums are filled with just tap water, while some who want to enhance the water conditions will add several liters of pond water for the natural bacteria.

However, if pH levels deviate too far from the ideal (of around 7), you can add or lower them. To raise pH levels, use a product like Baking Soda (pH level of 9) or crushed coral. To lower pH levels, use lemon juice or limestone.

Do I Need to Oxygenate a Perch Pond, Pool, or Tank?

A perch pool or pond will need to have some level of oxygenation (especially if it’s an indoor aquarium) but perch can survive in a much lower dissolved oxygen water environment than trout or salmon.

There are many ways to oxygenate the water, but one of the nicest and easiest ways is to install an artificial waterfall that is fed by a water pump from the pool. One of the better pond pumps from Alpine is pictured below.

How to Introduce Perch to my Pond

You can provide the environment and process for hatching eggs and raising the fingerlings (baby perch) but it is usually far easier and less of a hassle to buy fingerlings to grow for food.

While there are many hatcheries all around North America willing to sell fish for your pond, it’s not always easy to find fingerlings or eggs for perch specifically, everywhere in the country.

If you are able to obtain young perch, they’ll likely arrive in a bag filled with water. It’s always a good idea to introduce them to their new home while still in their original water, and then after several minutes allow the new water to mix with theirs and eventually remove the bag altogether.

How Many Perch Can I Raise in my Pool, Pond, or Tank?

There are several factors that will determine how many perch can be successfully raised in an enclosed containment system environment, but a good rule of thumb would be no more than 2500 fingerling perch per 1000 gallons of water.

Remember that fish will grow, so if you put young perch at that stocking rate into your pond, there will be too many fish for that same space as they grow.

So, if you’re looking to raise perch for food, I’d suggest nothing smaller than a 1000-gallon container (small swimming pool would do the trick) and up to 2500 fingerling perch. The tank or pool would be set up with an oxygenator, waste treatment scenario, and potentially a temperature control device.

What Do You Feed Perch in a Pond?

Adult perch feed is usually made in a pellet form and is made up of around 50% protein content and 20% fat content. This is similar to farmed trout food.

It is also known that perch are notoriously difficult to wean from the live food of their early life cycle stages to the pellet-style food of adulthood. In some cases, perch will die if they have not been trained to eat pellets.

Perch fry may have to be weaned off live food with the use of krill powder and the smallest-sized fish feeds. You’ll have to provide these options in a progressive manner (gradually decreasing the ratio of natural food). If the process isn’t done with scientific precision, it could be disastrous.

It’s best to source out this feed for higher volume purchasing. Unfortunately, there is far more availability nationwide for trout food rather than food made specifically for perch.

How Long Does it Take to Farm Perch?

Perch can be raised from either eggs or from fingerlings in around 12 – 15 months. Females are not ready to spawn for as long as 3 or even 4 years, but perch is ready to eat in as little as a year and can be left to harvest for food as long as 3 years.

The lifespan of a perch can be 10 or 11 years!

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Perch is one of North America’s tastiest fish and it’s relatively popular since most people are familiar with them.

Spawning in the wild will happen in the Springtime, and a yellow perch can be harvested anywhere from 12 months to 3 years later.

The earliest advisable scenario would be to harvest in the Autumn of the second year (year after they were born) when the water is below 60ºF. This would be approximately 15 – 17 months after birth.

The process of raising perch from eggs can be complicated if you attempt to control and optimize the process during each step. Because of this, it’s advisable to simply purchase fingerlings from a hatchery.

Will Perch in a Pond Reproduce?

Perch living in a pool or pond will eventually reproduce once they reach the stage of reproduction. However, it’s important to note that perch will only spawn once per year in a natural pond environment.

In that scenario, you would then collect the eggs from the vegetation upon which the eggs were deposited by spawning perch, and then start the incubation process indoors in a controlled environment.

To maximize the number of fingerlings per year, commercial perch aquaculture operations will employ a process indoors whereby 4 spawnings per year are obtained.

If spawning in the “wild” (or your backyard aquaculture pool), the females (ready to spawn in 3 or 4 years) will spawn once. But, in order to facilitate successful spawning, the water temperatures should be close to 45ºF or a bit less for at least a month in the Spring season.

In the wild (or uncontrolled pond environment), survival rates of perch fingerlings is very low because larger perch will cannibalize them. That is why separating fingerlings from adults will provide them the best chances of survival to adulthood.

Key Takeaways – Raising Your Own Perch at Home

While raising perch in a pond or pool is not for everyone, it can be an exciting and rewarding way to produce fresh high-quality protein at home.

Perch will eat their young, so be aware that survival rates in the wild are very low.

By following the guidelines outlined in this brief, you can enjoy delicious fish while helping support local economies by farming responsibly. All it takes is some dedication, effort, and knowledge of farming practices to make your dream of farming perch come true! Good luck!


  1. https://www.howtoaquaponic.com/fish/yellow-perch-aquaponics/
  2. https://freshwater-aquaculture.extension.org/yellow-perch-aquaculture/
  3. https://pondinformer.com/perch-feeding-guide/
  4. https://thefishsite.com/articles/species-profile-yellow-perch-perca-flavescens

Pete Stack

After 40 years of experience canoeing, camping, fishing, hiking and climbing in the Ontario wilderness, Pete is eager to combine his love for the outdoors with his passion to write. It is our hope that his knowledge can be passed on through this site and on Rugged Outdoors Guide on YouTube.

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