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Zander - Sander lucioperca
Other Names:  Stizostedion lucioperca

Aquatic Invasive Species

Global Rank: GNR
State Rank: SNA

Agency Status


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General Description
The Zander (Sander lucioperca) is a sportfish introduced to North America sharing a genus and some resemblance to the Walleye (Sander vitreous). The species has a long slender body, with no spines on the gill cover (Larsen and Berg 2011). The mouth has many small teeth and fewer large teeth for catching their prey (Larsen and Berg 2011). The species has two dorsal fins, one with 13 to 20 spines and one with 1-2 spines and 18 to 24 soft rays (Larsen and Berg 2011). The caudal fin has 17 soft rays and the anal fin has 2-3 spines and 10-14 soft rays (Larsen and Berg 2011). Zander lengths reach upwards of 100-130 cm with top weights of about 15-20 kg (Larsen and Berg 2011, Kottelat and Greyhof 2007, Keith and Allardi 2001, Robins et al. 1991). Maximum age is inversely correlated to growth rate, slow-growing Zander in the northern part of the distribution area reach 20-24 years of age, while faster-growing Zander in the southern part only reach about 8-9 years (Sonesten 1991).

Range Comments
The native range of the Zander spans continental Europe to western Siberia (Berg 1949; Robins et al. 1991).
Zander has been widely introduced into western European waters and the species was illegally introduced into portions of England (Fuller and Nielson 2018). According to Hickley (1986), the success of introduced populations seemed to be limited by the availability of the species preferred habitat, characterized as "eutrophic, turbid, well oxygenated and of low mean depth, and, if a river, slow-flowing rather than turbulent". Zander feed heavily on prey of small size and there is concern among European fish resource managers that introduced Zander may cause a collapse in resident prey fish stocks (Hickley 1986).
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department (NDGFD) had been interested in Zander as a sport fish for many years (Lohman 1989). In 1987, prior to a formal introduction, the state had hatched eggs imported from Holland, but the resulting fry were destroyed for fear that they carried pike fry rhobdo virus (Fuller and Nielson 2018). Those wanting to introduce Zander thought that it would be a boon to the fisheries of North America (e.g., Anderson 1992), whereas others expressed strong reservations (Wright 1992). Some fisheries personnel in states surrounding North Dakota and nearby Canadian provinces expressed doubts concerning the species' introduction, particularly because its effect on native species was unknown and because of its potential to spread (Wingate 1992). Spiritwood Lake was chosen as the site of an experimental release because the water body was completely enclosed (Lohman 1989, Anderson 1992, Fuller and Nielson 2018). After the initial stock it was believed the species did not persist (Anderson 1992). The capture of a fish in August 1999, and another 2+ year old fish in 2000 demonstrated that at least some survived and reproduced. Then five young-of-the-year fish were collected in 2005. As of 2009, the state reports that they are established in Spiritwood Lake although they say the population is very small (Fuller and Nielson 2018). Genetic sampling of fish has found that all are pure Zander; there has been no hybridization (Fuller and Nielson 2018). Spiritwood Lake is normally a closed basin, however it was connected to the James River due to flooding in 1998–2001 (Fuller and Nielson 2018). Sampling by NDGFD did not find any evidence that Zander escaped the lake during the flood (Fuller and Nielson 2018).
Courtenay et al. (1986) listed this species from New York, but the record was based on an unconfirmed report. Zander occurrences have been reported in North and South Dakota (Fuller and Nielson 2018).Zander was added to the Injurious Wildlife List by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016 (Dokken 2016).

May undertake short spawning migrations (Freyhof and Kottelat 2008). Individuals foraging in brackish water migrate to freshwater habitats (migrations of up to 250 km have been recorded), homing well developed, even nearby populations may be relatively isolated (Freyhof and Kottelat 2008).

Inhabits large, turbid rivers and eutrophic lakes, brackish coastal lakes and estuaries. Feeds mainly on gregarious, pelagic fishes, piscivorous. Concern exists that Zander and walleye could hybridize. So far there has been no evidence of that happening (Fuller and Nielson 2018). There has been no discernible impact on native walleye or perch populations (Fuller and Nielson 2018 They are a potamodromous freshwater fish and prefers depths from 2-30m (Riede 2004; Billard 1997; Gerstmeier and Romig 1998).

Reproductive Characteristics
Lives up to 17 years. Spawns for the first time at 3-10 years, usually at four (Freyhof and Kottelat 2008). Spawns in April-May, exceptional from late February until July, depending on latitude and altitude, when temperatures reach 10-14°C in spawning grounds (lowest temperature for egg incubation 11.5°C) (Freyhof and Kottelat 2008). Males are territorial and excavate shallow depressions about 50 cm in diameter and 5-10 cm deep in sand or gravel, or among exposed plant roots on which eggs are deposited, usually in turbid water and at 1-3 m depth (Freyhof and Kottelat 2008). Spawns in pairs, at dawn or night and female remains over the nest while male circles rapidly around, at about 1 meter from nest (Freyhof and Kottelat 2008). Then male takes a vertical orientation and both swim around swiftly, and eggs and sperm are released (Freyhof and Kottelat 2008). After all the eggs are released the female leaves the nest site (Freyhof and Kottelat 2008). Male defends the nest and fans the eggs with his pectorals (Freyhof and Kottelat 2008). Females spawn once a year (Freyhof and Kottelat 2008). Feeding larvae are positively phototactic and feed on pelagic organisms after they leave the nest for open water (Freyhof and Kottelat 2008).


  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Anderson, R.O. 1992. A case for Zander: Fish for the future? In-Fisherman Walleye Guide for 1992. In-Fisherman Magazine, Brainerd, MN. Pp 22-32.
    • Berg, L.S. 1949. Freshwater fishes of the U.S.S.R. and adjacent countries, 4th edition. Three volumes. Translated from Russian, 1962-1965, for the Smithsonian Institution and the National Science Foundation, by Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem, Israel. Volume 1:504 pp.; volume 2:496 pp.; volume 3:510 pp.
    • Billard, R. 1997. The freshwater fish of the rivers of France. Identification, inventory and distribution of 83 species. Lausanne, Delachaux & Niestlé, 192p.
    • Courtenay, W.R., Jr., D.A. Hensley, J.N. Taylor, and J.A. McCann. 1986. Distribution of exotic fishes in North America. Pages 675-698 in Hocutt, C.H., and E.O. Wiley, eds. The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes. John Wiley and Sons. New York, NY.
    • Dokken, B. 2016. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service list Zander as injurious species. Grand Forks Herald. Grand Forks, ND. 2 October 2016
    • Freyhof, J. and M. Kottelat. 2008. Sander lucioperca. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008. e.T20860A9231839. International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN) Global Species Programme.
    • Fuller, P. and Neilson, M.E. 2018. Sander lucioperca (Linnaeus, 1758). U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 10/11/2017, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 8/8/2018
    • Gerstmeier, R. and T. Romig 1998. The freshwater fish of Europe: for nature lovers and anglers. Franckh-Kosmos Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany. 368 p
    • Hickley, P. 1986. Invasion by Zander and the management of fish stocks. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences 314:571-582.
    • Keith, P. and J. Allardi (coords.) 2001. Atlas of the freshwater fishes of France. Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris. Patrimoines naturels, 47:1-387.
    • Larsen, L.K. and S. Berg. NOBANIS – Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet – Stizostedion lucioperca. – From: Online Database of the North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species – NOBANIS, Date of access 8/14/2018.
    • Lohman, J. 1989. Biologists introduce Zander into North America. The Forum. Fargo-Moorhead. Fargo, ND. 22 July 1989
    • Muus, B.J. and P. Dahlström. 1968. Freshwater Fish. BLV Publishing Company, München. 224 p.
    • Riede, K. 2004. Global register of migratory species - from global to regional scales. Final Report of the R&D-Projekt 808 05 081. Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Bonn, Germany. 329 p.
    • Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea, and W.B. Scott. 1991. World fishes important to North Americans exclusive of species from the continental waters of the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 21. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD. 243 pp.
    • Sonesten, L. 1991. Gösen's biology - a literature collection . Information from the Sötvattens Laboratorium , Drottningholm 1991: 1: 1-89.
    • Wingate, P.J. 1992. Zander–evaluate carefully before introducing. Page 32 in In-Fisherman Walleye Guide for 1992. In-Fisherman Magazine, Brainerd, MN
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Zander — Sander lucioperca.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from