Perch reproduce through the sexual process of spawning. The female releases a strand of eggs, referred to as an egg ribbon, into the water. These eggs are subsequently fertilized by the sperm of a male perch.
The egg ribbon of a perch contains from 2,000 to 90,000 eggs, which is released by the females only when multiple sexually mature males are present. Female perch do not build nests, therefore the egg ribbon is released directly into the open water. Within a few seconds of that release, the males release their sperm into the same water to fertilize the eggs.
Since the egg ribbon is covered by a jelly-like mucous, when aquatic vegetation is present, portions of the egg ribbon may adhere to the leaves, branches or other substrates. Those portions that do not attach to a surface are carried away by prevailing currents.
The female leaves the area immediately after spawning, and though the males often stay in the immediate vicinity for a few minutes longer, they also eventually abandon the eggs. While the fertilized eggs are left unprotected, they are rarely eaten by predators due to a chemical substance in the protective mucous layer that makes them undesirable as a food source. Under ideal conditions the fertilized eggs hatch in approximately eight days.