Fish Facts: Like No Perch You’ve Ever Seen

An angler caught this fish off the Argentina coast — and it became a world record.

World Record Argentinian sandperch
Steve Wozniak with the 22-pound Argentinian sandperch that would become the IGFA all-tackle world record for the species. Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak, who has caught more species of game fish than anyone in the world shared with me this photo of his catch from the Atlantic coast of northern Argentina. He says, “I caught this fish in about 100 feet of water off Mar del Plata, Argentina. The guide called it a white salmon.” Wozniak knew it wasn’t a salmon, and thought it might be a sand perch. (“That seems a pretty unassuming name for a 22-pound beast!” he adds.) “Is this correct, and what can you tell me about the species? Is it at all related to tilefishes?”

Sandperch from South of the Equator

Ichthyologist Ray Waldner says Steve got it right both in terms of the I.D. and the name. “That fish is indeed Pseudopercis semifsciata, the Argentinian sandperch,” he says. Waldner reports a known maximum length of 3.3 feet, making this fish pretty close to that max.

Besides this species, there are only two others in the family — Pinguipedidae, the sandperches. “All of these are restricted to the Southern Hemisphere,” Waldner adds, “with the Argentinian variety reported to range from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Golfo San Jorge, Argentina.

Sandperches are most common over sandy/rocky bottoms to 330 feet. The species can be seen for sale in markets, though Waldner adds, “Because of its low reproductive rate, it’s considered a species vulnerable to overfishing.

Editor’s Note: In the time since Steve Wozniak sent us this photo, the catch has become recognized by the International Game Fish Association as the all-tackle world record Argentinian sandperch, so congrats, Steve. He also holds records for bonefish and many other species.

SWS Fish Facts expert Ray Waldner spent decades as a professor of ichthyology at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida, as well as serving as adjunct professor of zoology at Florida Atlantic University.

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