Perccottus glenii Dybowski, 1877

Common Name: Amur sleeper

Synonyms and Other Names:

Chinese sleeper, rotan, Eleotris dybowskii Herzenstein & Warpachowski, 1888, E. pleskei Warpachowski, 1888, Perccottus glehni, Percottus glehni, P. pleskei (Warpachowski, 1888)

Identification: Perccottus glenii has a robust and streamlined body completely covered with scales. The body is dark and varies from greenish-olive to brownish-gray or dark green. It has irregular spots and blotches with numerous small pale yellow to blue-green flecks on the dorsal and lateral sides of the body. The belly is speckled. A dark streak runs from the tip of the snout towards the edge of the opercula and from the eye to the angle of the jaws (Miller and Vasil’eva 2003). The body depth at the pelvic origin is about 30% of its standard length. The mouth is large and the angle of the jaws is beneath the rear half of the eye, while the lower jaw is in advance of the upper jaw. The tip of the pectoral fin is below the origin of the second dorsal fin. The pelvic fins are relatively short, and less than ½ to ¾ of the length of the abdomen. The caudal fin is rounded. During the breeding season, males have darker coloration than the females, and have inflated areas on the head.

Size: 27-142 mm standard length

Native Range: Eastern Russia, Northeastern China, Northern Korea (Mori 1936, Nikolsky 1956, Zhu 1995).

Nonindigenous Occurrences: Perccottus glenii is found in Bulgaria (Jurajda et al. 2006), Croatia (Caleta et al. 2010), Germany (Reshetnikov and Schliewen 2013), Hungary (Reshetnikov 2004), Latvia (USFWS Ecological Risk Summary 2012), Poland (Grabowska et al. 2011), Romania (USFWS Ecological Risk Summary 2012), western Russia (Grabowska et al. 2011, Reshenikov 2003), Serbia (Simonovic et al. 2006), eastern Slovakia (Košco et al. 2003), and Ukraine (Kutsokon et al. 2014, Kvach 2012). It was first introduced to Europe in 1912 when several fish were kept in an aquarium and released to ponds near St. Petersburg, Russia (Grabowska et al. 2010). This species occurs in the Vistula River (Grabowska et al. 2011) and the Baltic Sea basin (Košco et al. 2003).

Ecology: Perccottus glenii inhabits stagnant muddy waters at depths of less than 10 m near coasts and vegetation (Golovanov and Ruchin 2011, Grabowska et al. 2009, Pronin et al. 2006). This species can tolerate temperatures as low as 1°C (Verreycken 2013) to as high as 35.8°C (Golovanov et al. 2013). It can withstand very low dissolved oxygen levels (Caleta et al. 2010, Košco et al. 2008, Reshetnikov 2003, Yang et al. 2012). The optimal salinity range for this species is 0-6 ppt (Golovanov and Ruchin 2011). Its diet is composed of macroinvertebrates, mollusks, larval amphibians, juvenile fish, fish eggs, and higher aquatic plants (Reshetnikov 2003). Perccottus glenii be cannibalistic (Košco et al. 2003). This species exhibits parental care and spawns multiple times from April to August (Grabowska et al. 2011).

Means of Introduction: Perccottus glenii has a moderate probability of introduction to the Great Lakes (Confidence level: High).

Potential pathway(s) of introduction: Trans-oceanic shipping (ballast water)

Perccottus glenii does not currently occur near waters connected to the Great Lakes basin. This species is not known to hitchhike or foul recreational gear. Perccottus glenii is sold in Eurasia and was once a popular fish for aquariums and backyard ponds (Reshetnikov 2004). It is used as bait fish in Europe (Edgar and Bird 2005, Reshetnikov 2004). There is no evidence that this species can be obtained in North America to be released into the Great Lakes. Perccottus glenii is not cultured or stocked in the Great Lakes region. This species occurs in ports that have direct trade connections with the Great Lakes, such as those in the Baltic Sea (Košco et al. 2003, NBIC 2009). One of the suggested pathways for the introduction of Perccottus glenii is ballast water (Caleta et al. 2010). Perccottus glenii can tolerate a broad range of temperatures (Golovanova and Ruchin 2011) and waters with low oxygen (Košco et al. 2008, Reshetnikov 2003). Its tolerance to high salinity is not fully known, but it is likely that ballast regulations will substantially impact the survival of Perccottus glenii.

Status: Status: Established in North America, but not including the Great Lakes.
Perccottus glenii has a high probability of establishment if introduced to the Great Lakes (Confidence level: High).

The native and introduced ranges have a similar climate to the Great Lakes region and Mountain West (USFWS Ecological Risk Summary 2012). Perccottus glenii can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures (Golovanov and Ruchin 2011, Verreycken 2013). Several studies mention that this species can tolerate low dissolved oxygen levels (Caleta et al. 2010, Košco et al. 2008, Reshetnikov 2003, Yang et al. 2012), but no specific ranges are reported. The optimal salinity for this species is 0-6 ppt (Golovanov and Ruchin 2011) and it inhabits fresh to brackish water (Froese and Pauly 2010). Perccottus glenii is also resistant to high water eutrophication (Košco et al. 2003). Given its tolerances to a wide variety of environmental conditions, it is likely that this species can establish in the Great Lakes, especially in stagnant water bodies of a shallow depth. This species is known to overwinter under frozen bodies of water, and hibernates in mud (Golovanov and Ruchin 2011, Košco et al. 2008, USFWS 2012), thus it is likely that this species can overwinter in the Great Lakes. Perccottus glenii will likely adapt to the effects of climate change in the Great Lakes, including warmer water temperatures, shorter duration of ice cover, and increased salinization.

Perccottus glenii feeds opportunistically, preying on animals at every trophic level, and is omnivorous (Košco et al. 2008, Grabowska et al. 2009, Reshetnikov 2003). This species has the potential to compete with native species (Košco et al. 2003, Orlova et al. 2006, Reshetnikov 2003). In addition, there are species in the Great Lakes region that may prey on Perccottus glenii such as perch and pike (Golovanov and Ruchin 2011), but little research has been conducted to investigate whether these predators will reduce this species’ probability of establishment.

Its average fecundity ranges 7,766-9,149 per female, which increases with increasing size (Grabowska et al. 2011). The fecundity of Perccottus glenii is higher than that of native nest-guarders, but lower than fishes not exhibiting parental care. This species is characterized by early maturation and reproduction where it has been introduced, which may aid its establishment into new areas. Individual growth rates are higher in the Vistula River than in its native range (Grabowska et al. 2011).

Historically, this species has established populations extensively outside of its native range. Its nonindigenous range includes western Russia (Grabowska et al. 2011, Reshenikov 2003), Latvia (USFWS Ecological Risk Summary 2012), Poland (Grabowska et al. 2011), Ukraine (Kutsokon et al. 2014, Kvach 2012), eastern Slovakia (Košco et al. 2003), Hungary (Reshetnikov 2004), Romania (USFWS Ecological Risk Summary 2012), Bulgaria (Jurajda et al. 2006), Serbia (Simonovic et al. 2006), Croatia (Caleta et al. 2010), and Germany (Reshetnikov and Schliewen 2013).

Great Lakes Impacts: Perccottus glenii has the potential for high environmental impact if introduced to the Great Lakes.
Perccottus glenii is a host to some parasites. Data suggests that parasites Myxidium rimskykorsakowi, Henneguya alexeevi, Nippotaenia mogurndae, and Gyrodactylus perccotti were introduced to new regions with P. glenii as a vector (Sokolov et al. 2014); these parasites infect fishes in the Odontobutidae family. The parasite load of this species is more diverse in its introduced ranges than in its native range.

As a trophic competitor and a predator, Perccottus glenii has been implicated in the population declines of historically abundant native species such as Umbra krameri, Carassius carassius, and Leucapspius delineatus (Košco et al. 2003). Habitats with high numbers of Perccottus glenii were associated with lower fish species richness and diversity. Perccottus glenii can potentially compete with native species that utilize similar microhabitats and food resources (Košco et al. 2003).

By feeding heavily on macroinvertebrates, larval and adult amphibians, and fish eggs, Perccottus glenii has the potential to alter predator-prey relationships (Reshetnikov 2003). Many aquatic larvae of terrestrial organisms are primary consumers and export nitrogen from the system when leaving the water at maturity, which is meaningful for nitrogen dynamics and the rate of eutrophication. Perccottus glenii effectively reduces the transport of nitrogen from aquatic to terrestrial environments by feeding on these organisms.

Perccottus glenii has the potential for low socio-economic impact if introduced to the Great Lakes.
Perccottus glenii is a host to the liver fluke, which is a parasite that infects humans (Mastitsky et al. 2010), but there are no reports suggesting that Perccottus gleniii is responsible for liver fluke infection in humans. There is no indication that this species impacts water quality, markets, or infrastructure. There is no evidence suggesting that it inhibits recreation or diminishes the natural value of the areas it inhabits.

Perccottus glenii has the potential for moderate beneficial impact if introduced to the Great Lakes.
Small introductions of Perccottus glenii in Eurasia were attempted in effort to reduce mosquito populations with no significant results (Košco et al. 2003). This species can be used as a bait fish and is sometimes kept in ponds or aquariums (Košco et al. 2008, Reshetnikov 2004). There is no indication that Perccottus glenii is valuable for medical research, for removing toxins, or for positively impacting the ecosystem.

Management: Regulations (pertaining to the Great Lakes region)

There are no known regulations for this species.*

*Ballast water regulations applicable to this species are currently in place to prevent the introduction of nonindigenous species to the Great Lakes via shipping. See Title 33: Code of Federal Regulations, Part 151, Subparts C and D (33 CFR 151 C) for the most recent federal ballast water regulations applying to the Great Lakes and Hudson River.

Note: Check federal, state/provincial, and local regulations for the most up-to-date information.


There are no known biological control methods for this species.

There are no known physical control methods for this species. 

There are no known chemical control methods specific to this species. General piscicides (such as rotenone) may be used for control, but expect significant kill of non-target species.

Note: Check state/provincial and local regulations for the most up-to-date information regarding permits for control methods. Follow all label instructions.


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Author: Baker, E., A. Szczepanski, and J. Li.

Contributing Agencies:

Revision Date: 2/4/2015

Citation for this information:
Baker, E., A. Szczepanski, and J. Li., 2019, Perccottus glenii Dybowski, 1877: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, and NOAA Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System, Ann Arbor, MI,, Revision Date: 2/4/2015, Access Date: 12/13/2019

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.