Walleye and white perch share some similarities. For this reason many people ask if they’re really the same. Let’s answer, is walleye the same as white perch?
Walleye and white perch are not the same, they’re different species of fish from different families. Walleye is the S. Vitreus species and white perch is the M. americana species. Walleye grow to twice the length of the white perch and weigh approximately 20 times more.
This article will compare their tastes, textures, cooking methods, costs, mercury levels and whether one can substitute for the other in recipes. In addition, I’ll do a side-by-side comparison of their habitats, appearance and compare their nutritional value.
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Walleye vs White Perch: Habitats, Size, Weight and Appearance
How can you tell the difference between a walleye and a white perch?
To tell the difference between a walleye and a white perch is the body shape, size, color and body markings. White perch have a silver body with no markings, walleye have an olive green and golden color with dark bars on the upper back. Walleye average 22 inches long compared to 7-10 inches for white perch.
Other ways to tell the difference between a walleye and a white perch:
- Walleye have long, thin round bodies. White perch have shorter, flatter bodies.
- White perch has a dark, faint lateral line running down the body. Walleye don’t have any lateral lines.
- Walleye’s eyes are large, pearlescent and opaque. White perch have an average, dark colored eye.
Walleye and White Perch Scientific Classifications, Families, Species
Walleye are from:
- Family: Percidae
- Genus: Sander
- Species: S. vitreus
- Common nicknames: Yellow pike, yellow pickerel.
White perch are from:
- Family: Moronidae
- Genus: Morone
- Species: M. americana
- Common nicknames: Silver bass
Walleye and White Perch Habitats
- Walleye are native to Canada and North America. They can be found in Canada, the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, the Mississippi River basins from Canada, New York down south to Alabama and Arkansas.
- They can be found in lakes, reservoirs and rivers.
- Walleye prefer large, shallow lakes and are rarely found in brackish waters.
White Perch Habitats
- White perch are native to the Atlantic coast. They can be found from Nova Scotia down to South Carolina. White perch can be found in the Great Lakes.
- They can be found in brackish waters, streams, lakes, reservoirs and rivers.
- White perch prefer mud, silt and sandy bottom areas.
Walleye and White Perch Appearance
Walleye and White Perch Colors
- White perch are silver with a grayish body. The back is black or dark gray and the belly is whitish.
- Walleye have a dark, olive green back with olive green to golden sides. The coloring on the sides fades towards the white belly. There are five dark bands crossing over the back and upper sides.
White perch have silver to gray sides with no stripes or bands. Walleye have olive green to golden sides with dark bands on the upper sides and back.
- White perch has two dorsal fins. The front dorsal has 9 spines, and the second dorsal has 8-12 soft rays.
- Walleye has two dorsal fins. The front dorsal has about 12 spines and the second dorsal has 10-13 soft rays.
White perch and walleye have two dorsal fins, the first with spines and the second with soft rays.
- The white perch anal fin has soft rays with no spines.
- The walleye anal fin has soft rays with no spines.
White perch and walleye only have soft rays on their anal fins.
- The white perch mouth doesn’t extend past the eye line. The white perch lower jaw slightly protrudes.
- The walleye mouth is large but doesn’t extend past the eye line. The walleye lower jaw protrudes.
Walleye have sharp teeth inside their mouth.
- White perch has a dark, faint lateral line running down the side of the body.
- Walleye has dark bars or saddles running from the upper sides over the back. Walleye’s eyes are large, pearlescent and opaque. Their caudal and anal fins have white colored tips.
- The white perch body is flat, slightly elongated with a domed back.
- The walleye body is long, thin and round.
The white perch has a compressed body. The walleye has a round, long body.
Walleye and White Perch Size and Weight
- White perch averages 7-10 inches long and weighs between eight ounces to one pound.
- Walleye average 22 inches long and weigh up to 20 pounds.
Walleye weigh much more than white perch and are over twice the length.
Walleye and White Perch Lifespan
- White perch lives up to 17 years.
- Walleye lives up to 10 years.
White Perch Diet
White perch consumes the following:
- Fish eggs
- Small minnows
- Grass shrimp
- Razor clams
Walleye consume the following:
- Small fish
- Yellow perch
- Large invertebrates
Walleye, white perch and other fish are known for being a part of many diets like keto or heart healthy.
If you’re eating low-carb or want to give keto a try, many of my clients have followed this 28-Day Keto Challenge with great success. Visit their website and check it out.
Walleye and White Perch: Tastes and Textures
One of the most important things people takes into consideration when choosing a fish is its taste. When comparing the two fish, does walleye tastes like white perch?
Walleye and white perch have a similar mild to sweet taste. At times both fish may have a slight fishy flavor depending where the fish was caught. Walleye and white perch have a firm texture which is smooth and flakey.
What does walleye taste like? Walleye have a mild to sweet taste. For some people walleye may have a slightly fishy flavor but it’s not overpowering. The texture is firm but delicate and flakey.
What does white perch taste like? White perch has a mild to sweet taste. The texture is moist, firm and flaky. White perch can taste somewhat fishy depending which waters they were caught.
Many people want to know if there’s a difference between white perch and white crappie. Find out in my article, White Crappie vs White Perch: Are They The Same? We Compare.
White Perch and Walleye Substitutions
When preparing recipes for dinner it’s not always possible to locate the type of fish called for. If you have some white perch, you may ask, can I substitute white perch for walleye?
White perch and walleye can substitute for each other due to their similar mild to sweet tastes and firm textures. Due to white perches smaller size, their fillets will be smaller than walleye fillets. Therefore, more white perch fillets will be required to equal the weight called for in the recipe.
Other walleye substitutes include the following:
- Yellow perch
The best white perch substitutes are:
- Sole fillets
- Lake trout
When substituting white perch or walleye always stick to the following:
- Same size and weight.
- Stick with similar fillets, whole fillet or cross section.
- Stick with skinless or skin when the recipe calls for one.
- Texture is more important for certain cooking methods. Like using a firmer texture when grilling 11.
Many people consider white perch a problem. Find out why and the answer in my article, White Perch vs White Bass: Which Is Better?
How To Cook White Perch
The most popular ways to cook white perch are:
- Deep frying
- Pan frying/Stir fry
How To Cook Walleye
The most popular cooking methods for walleye are:
- Pan frying
Walleye flavor pairings:
- Olive oil
- Fish dill
- Pickle juice
- Black pepper
Another popular white fish, cod, was compared to white perch in my article, White Perch vs Cod – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.
How Much Walleye and White Perch Cost
The costs for fresh fish will vary depending on how the fish are caught and where they are sold. When purchasing any fish, be sure to check the label to see if it is wild-caught or farm raised. Therefore, which is costs more, walleye or white perch?
Walleye cost more per pound than white perch. The average cost for fresh walleye fillets is $20.42 per pound. The average costs for fresh white perch fillet is $11.99 per pound.
I checked online at Walleye Direct and found the following prices:
- Wild, walleye fillets
- $19.80 per pound
I checked Whyte’s Fishery online and found the following prices for white perch and walleye:
- Fresh white perch
- $9.00 per pound
- fresh walleye fillets
- $17.50 per pound
I checked Doorganics online and found the following white perch and walleye costs:
- Wild white perch fillet
- $14.99 per pound
- Wild walleye fillets
- $23.98 per pound
To save some money on fresh seafood, would you believe some can be purchased on Amazon? Check out their current prices and selection, Fresh Seafood.
Walleye and White Perch Mercury Levels
The EPA and The Food and Drug Administration have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and how often they should be consumed 12. This is especially important for the following:
- Pregnant women
- Developing children
- Young infants
They established a list of the following:
- Best fish
- Good choices
- Fish to avoid
Therefore, does walleye or white perch have more mercury?
Walleye and white perch have similar levels of mercury. White perch and walleye are listed on the FDA’s best choice of fish regarding mercury levels.
If you’re pregnant, breast feeding or has a young child, Always check with a physician prior to eating new foods or changing your dietary habits.
Mercury warnings can change over time or affect only a particular area or state. Please check with your local EPA and FDA for the current recommendations 13.
Walleye and White Perch Nutrient Comparison
Below is a nutrient comparison of white perch and walleye per four ounces:
|Nutrient||Walleye (4 ounces)||White Perch (4 Ounces)|
|Total Fat||1.4 g||5.3 g|
|Saturated Fat||0.3 g||1.3 g|
|Protein||22 g||21 g|
|Cholesterol||98 mg||107 mg|
|Sodium||58 mg||46 mg|
|Potassium||441 mg||346 mg|
|Iron||1.5 mg||0.4 mg|
|Calcium||125 mg||27.22 mg|
Both fish contain a good number of minerals and vitamins. Keep reading below to find out how the nutrients provided by walleye and white perch benefit health.
Walleye and White Perch Health Benefits
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The omega-3 fatty acids provided by walleye and white perch help keep arteries healthy and are considered heart healthy. The omega-3s may help with the following:
- Lowering triglycerides.
- Reduce inflammation.
- Reduce plaque buildup.
- Keeping bad cholesterol low.
- Keeping good cholesterol high.
- Help keep the heart rhythms more normal.
DHA and EPA, two of the fatty acids, are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels 16.
Studies suggest omega-3s boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs. In addition, they’ve been shown to help reduce joint pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Magnesium helps to calm and relax the whole body including blood vessels. It has been shown to help improve sleep related problems like insomnia 17.
Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels balanced and stable. A recent study researched 22 studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased diastolic and systolic blood pressure 18.
Magnesium provided by walleye and white perch helps control muscle and nerve function, blood sugar and blood pressure.
In the muscles and heart, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting. When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
The B vitamins provided by walleye and white perch include the following:
- B1 (thiamin)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B9 (folate)
B vitamins help support the following:
- Brain function.
- Energy levels.
- Red blood cells.
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Nerve function.
Walleye provides 441 mg per four ounces and white perch 346 mg. Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium which helps reduce fluid build-up. The result keeps systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 19.
The more potassium you consume, the more sodium your body will lose. Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 20.
According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure 21.
Walleye provides approximately 125 mg of calcium per four ounces. Calcium is important for blood pressure and the heart.
Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure because it helps to control the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 22.
Calcium also helps the following:
- Build and maintain strong bones.
- Muscles need calcium to function properly.
- Improve nerve function.
Walleye provides 238 mg of phosphorus. It has been shown in scientific research to help with the following:
- Promote teeth and bone strength.
- Muscle recovery after exercise.
- Muscle contraction.
- Help the body store and manage energy.
- Help the kidneys remove waste.
- Promote healthy nerve conduction.
Selenium is a nutrient which doesn’t receive much press. I’m unsure why many don’t write about it more. Many studies 23 show selenium may help to protect the following:
- Cognitive issues
- Heart disease
- The immune system
Read Next – More Fish vs Fish Articles!
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- North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission: White Perch
- USGS: Morone Americana
- Sea Grant University of Wisconsin: White Perch
- Maryland Department of Natural Resources: Maryland Fish Facts White Perch
- Chesapeake Bay Program: White Perch
- Wikipedia: White perch
- Wikipedia: Walleye
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Walleye
- Chesapeake Bay Program: Walleye Sander Vitreus
- The National Wildlife Federation: Walleye
- Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions
- FDA: Advice about Eating Fish
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mercury accumulation in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in a Florida lake
- Nutrition Value: White perch fillets, white perch by Turbo Ice
- Nutrition Data: Fish, raw, walleye, pike
- National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease
- National Institutes of Health: Magnesium
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis
- American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach
- Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure
- Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure
- National Institutes of Health: Selenium