Environment

Native Fish Species Of Canada

From the Arctic to the temperate, these are some of Canada's most well-known native fish.

Canada is the second largest country by area in the world. It covers a total area of 3,855,100 square miles, and within this expanse is a wide range of geographic features. These features range from mountains to boreal forests and even permanent ice sheets. Cutting across the country are a number of rivers and other bodies of water that provide homes to numerous fish species. This article takes a look at some of the native fish species found within Canada.

Native Fish Species Found in Canada

Rock Bass

The rock bass can be found in the eastern regions of Canada, as well as certain other parts of North America. This species belongs to the sunfish family and, in Canada, lives in the Saint Lawrence River and the Great Lakes water system. Within these bodies of water, this fish prefers clear waters and rocky habitats. The rock bass can be identified by its two dorsal fins, red eyes, large mouth, and dark spots. It can grow between 6 and 10 inches in length and live between 10 and 12 years. The diet of this fish consists of smaller fish, crustaceans, and insects. It is popular in competitive sports fishing tournaments. This popularity as a sport fish does not seem to have affected its population size, which remains stable.

Lake Chub

The lake chub inhabits waterways throughout Canada and northern areas of the United States. It belongs to the minnow family and has the most northern range of any other species in this family, found as far north as the Arctic Circle. Its most common habitats include cold-water lakes, streams, and rivers. During the summer, this fish species often moves to deeper waters to avoid the warmer temperatures along the shoreline. The lake chub typically grows between 4 and 7 inches. It is recognized by its dark silver sides, dark brown back, and rounded snout. During breeding season, males produce red coloring around the side fins (pectoral fins) and mouth. Its stable population and wide distribution mean it is listed as least concern.

Common Carp

The common carp originated in Europe and Asia where, as its name suggests, it is a common fish species. In the early 19th Century, this species was introduced into the United States, and it quickly thereafter became popular as a food source for human consumption in North America. This popularity caused its distribution to spread all over the country and eventually into Washington state. From there, it is believed that the common carp made its way to the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia in Canada. They now inhabit Christina Lake, the Arrow Lakes, and the lower Kootenay. These waters provide the perfect habitat for the common carp with their slow-moving waters and soft sediment. Under the right conditions, this fish can grow to lengths of up to 47 inches and weigh up to 88 pounds. It is a popular as a sport fish.

For more native fish of Canada, take a look at the list below.

Environmental Threats

Although none of the above mentioned fish are currently endangered, that does not mean that they do not face environmental threats. Many other fish species within Canada are threatened or critically endangered. This threat comes from increasing habitat loss and fragmentation as well as pollution. Damming these waterways also puts fish species at risk because of reversed water flows. This has the biggest impact in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Okanagan, and Columbian waterways. Pollution is severely affecting such major Canadian water systems as the Columbia, both the Northern and Southern Saskatchewan, Okanagan-Similkameen, St. Lawrence, Ottawa, and the Great Lakes, just to name a few. If these threats are not controlled by the government, the country’s water resources, including its fish species, will be endangered.

Native Fish of Canada Scientific Name
Rock Bass Ambloplites rupestris
Lake Chub Couesius plumbeus
Common Carp Cyprinus carpio carpio
Northern Pike Esox lucius
Muskellunge Esox masquinongy
Ruffe Gymnocephalus cernuus
Spotted Gar Lepisosteus oculatus
Longnose Gar Lepisosteus osseus
Green Sunfish Lepomis cyanellus
Pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus
Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus
Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides
Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss
Yellow Perch Perca flavescens
Fathead Minnow Pimephales promelas
Flathead Catfish Pylodictis olivaris
Bull Trout Salvelinus confluentus
Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis
Walleye Sander vitreus

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