Freshwater fish are fish that spend some or all of their live in water with a salinity level lower than .05%. Freshwater fish, due to the segmented nature of ponds, lakes, and rivers, are subject to speciation similar to species on islands. Even though only .3% of global water is freshwater, only about 15,000 different species of freshwater fish exist. Freshwater fish make popular pets, while other, larger species, such as salmon, trout, and carp are hunted for food. Freshwater fish have undergone adaptations to survive in freshwater; such as, gills that diffuse dissolved gasses and keep salts inside, scales that reduce water diffusion, and kidneys that reclaim salt from body fluids before excretion.

What is the largest freshwater fish in the world?

The largest freshwater fish in the world is the beluga sturgeon. The beluga sturgeon can reach a length of 24 feet (7 m) and a weight of 3,500 lbs (1,500 kg). This freshwater fish has been declared endangered since 2004, due to the demand for its eggs that are sold as caviar.

What do freshwater fish eat?

The diet of a freshwater fish depends on its habitat, species, as well as the ecosystem they live in. Freshwater fish can carry a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore diet depending on their species. Carnivore freshwater fish consume other live fish, insects, larvae, and crustaceans. Herbivore freshwater fish eat plants, algae, as well as other vegetable matter.

Why can’t freshwater fish live in saltwater?

Freshwater fish can’t live in saltwater because it is too salty for them. The water inside their bodies flows out and as a result they die from dehydration. Fish need to osmoregulate or maintain the right amount of water in the bodies. Freshwater fish can only survive in accordance to how much salinity their body can handle.

Freshwater Fish Guides
Browse through our curated Freshwater Fish Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of Freshwater Fish. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.
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7”-9” | 17.8-22.9 cm
5’-6.5’ | 1.5-2 m
50-125 lb | 22.7-56.7 kg
20-50 years
Alligator Gar
22.900
200.000
56.700
50.00
72000
GUIDE
3D
Alligator Gar
8.5”-11.5” | 21.6-29.2 cm
5’-7’ | 1.52-2.13 m
60-200 lb | 27-91 kg
20-30 years
American Paddlefish
29.200
213.000
91.000
30.00
21000
GUIDE
3D
American Paddlefish
5”-6.75” | 12.7-17.1 cm
19”-24” | 48-61 cm
3-8 lb | 1.4-3.6 kg
6-10 years
American Shad
17.100
61.000
3.600
10.00
4500
GUIDE
3D
American Shad
1.2”-3.1” | 3-8 cm; 5.1” | 13 cm (Max)
6”-16” | 15-41 cm; 24” | 61 cm (Max)
.44-6 lb | .2-2.7 kg
3-6 years
Apache Trout
8.000
41.000
2.700
6.00
3460
GUIDE
3D
Apache Trout
2.5”-4” | 6.4-10.2 cm
12”-20” | 30.5-51 cm
2-4 lb | .9-1.8 kg
5-10 years
Arctic Grayling
10.200
51.000
1.800
10.00
3500
GUIDE
3D
Arctic Grayling
6.5”-9” | 16.5-22.9 cm
28”-40” | 71-102 cm
8-12 lb | 3.6-5.4 kg
5-13 years
Atlantic Salmon
22.900
102.000
5.400
13.00
13000
GUIDE
3D
Atlantic Salmon
10.2”-13.8” | 26-35 cm; 26” | 66 cm (Max)
6’-8’ | 1.83-2.44 m; 15’ | 4.57 m (Max)
198-794 lb | 90-360 kg
30-60 years
Atlantic Sturgeon
35.000
244.000
360.000
60.00
4340
GUIDE
3D
Atlantic Sturgeon
8.3”-18.9” | 21-48 cm; 41” | 104 cm (Max)
4.7’-10.75’ | 1.42-3.28 m; 24’ | 7.32 m (Max)
573-3,307 lb | 260-1,500 kg
50-118 years
Beluga Sturgeon
48.000
328.000
1500.000
118.00
29800
GUIDE
3D
Beluga Sturgeon
1.5”-3.75” | 3.8-9.5 cm
4”-11” | 10-28 cm
3-4 lb | 1.4-1.8 kg
7-15 years
Black Crappie
9.500
28.000
1.800
15.00
6800
GUIDE
3D
Black Crappie
1.8”-3” | 4.5-7.5 cm
9”-14.6” | 23-37 cm
.4-.5 lb | .18-.2 kg
9-11 years
Bloater
7.500
37.000
0.200
11.00
3800
GUIDE
3D
Bloater
2.6”-3.9” | 6.5-10 cm
11”-16” | 28-41 cm
.5-.6 lb | .2-.3 kg
6-8 years
Blueback Herring
10.000
41.000
0.300
8.00
2240
GUIDE
3D
Blueback Herring
3”-6.5” | 7.6-16.5 cm
7”-16” | 18-41 cm
1-2.6 lb | .5-1.2 kg
5-10 years
Bluegill
16.500
41.000
1.200
10.00
33000
GUIDE
3D
Bluegill
2”-5.5” | 5-14 cm
10”-26” | 25-66 cm
.6-6.6 lb | .3-3 kg
5-15 years
Brook Trout
14.000
66.000
3.000
15.00
24000
GUIDE
3D
Brook Trout
5”-7” | 12.7-17.8 cm
24”-34” | 61-86 cm
3-9 lb | 1.4-4 kg
5-12 years
Bull Trout
17.800
86.000
4.000
12.00
5600
GUIDE
3D
Bull Trout
2”-4.5” | 5-11.4 cm
12”-24” | 30.5-61 cm
2-7 lb | .9-3.2 kg
15-25 years
Channel Catfish
11.400
61.000
3.200
25.00
19000
GUIDE
3D
Channel Catfish
5.5”-8.5” | 14-21.6 cm
24”-36” | 61-91 cm
30-40 lb | 13.6-18.1 kg
5-9 years
Chinook Salmon
21.600
91.000
18.100
9.00
17000
GUIDE
3D
Chinook Salmon
6”-10” | 15.2-25.4 cm
24”-40” | 61-102 cm
8-22 lb | 3.6-10 kg
3-7 years
Chum Salmon
25.400
102.000
10.000
7.00
6200
GUIDE
3D
Chum Salmon
4.5”-7.5” | 11.4-19 cm
18”-30” | 46-76 cm
8-35 lb | 3.6-16 kg
2-4 years
Coho Salmon
19.000
76.000
16.000
4.00
20000
GUIDE
3D
Coho Salmon
3.7”-5.9” | 9.5-15 cm; 11.4” | 29 cm (Max)
2’-3’ | 61-91 cm; 6’ | 183 cm (Max)
40-79 lb | 18-36 kg
40-50 years
Colorado Pikeminnow
15.000
91.000
36.000
50.00
1200
GUIDE
3D
Colorado Pikeminnow
.2”-.3” | .5-.75 cm
.8”-1.2” | 2-3 cm
.14-.21 oz | 4-6 g
6-12 months
Devil’s Hole Pupfish
0.750
3.000
0.006
1.00
12700
GUIDE
3D
Devil’s Hole Pupfish
3.1”-4.1” | 8-10.5 cm
15”-19” | 38-48 cm
1.5-2.5 lb | .7-1.1 kg
20-40 years
Humpback Chub
10.500
48.000
1.100
40.00
1550
GUIDE
3D
Humpback Chub
1.8”-4.9” | 4.5-12.5 cm
8”-22” | 20-56 cm
5-10 lb | 2.3-4.5 kg
5-14 years
Lahontan Cutthroat Trout
12.500
56.000
4.500
14.00
2260
GUIDE
3D
Lahontan Cutthroat Trout
5.5”-11” | 14-28 cm
36”-72” | 91-183 cm
30-100 lb | 13.6-45.4 kg
55-150 years
Lake Sturgeon
28.000
183.000
45.400
150.00
7300
GUIDE
3D
Lake Sturgeon
4”-7” | 10.2-17.8 cm
20”-36” | 51-91 cm
4-22 lb | 1.8-10 kg
10-40 years
Lake Trout
17.800
91.000
10.000
40.00
14000
GUIDE
3D
Lake Trout
4”-8” | 10.2-20.3 cm
15”-30” | 38-76 cm
1.8-30 lb | .8-13.6 kg
15-20 years
Largemouth Bass
20.300
76.000
13.600
20.00
42000
GUIDE
3D
Largemouth Bass
3.5”-6.5” | 8.9-16.5 cm
28”-48” | 71-122 cm
10-40 lb | 4.5-18.1 kg
15-30 years
Muskellunge
16.500
122.000
18.100
30.00
10000
GUIDE
3D
Muskellunge
2.25”-3.75” | 5.7-9.5 cm
16”-26” | 41-66 cm
1.5-4 lb | .7-1.8 kg
10-25 years
Northern Pike
9.500
66.000
1.800
25.00
30000
GUIDE
3D
Northern Pike
3.5”-7.1” | 9-18 cm
30”-60” | 76-152 cm
80-100 lb | 36-45 kg
40-70 years
Pallid Sturgeon
18.000
152.000
45.000
70.00
1620
GUIDE
3D
Pallid Sturgeon
4.5”-7” | 11.4-17.8 cm
20”-30” | 51-76 cm
2-8 lb | .9-3.6 kg
4-11 years
Rainbow Trout
17.800
76.000
3.600
11.00
19000
GUIDE
3D
Rainbow Trout
3.5”-7.1” | 9-18 cm
1.6’-3’ | 48-91 cm
6.6-13.2 lb | 3-6 kg
35-50 years
Razorback Sucker
18.000
91.000
6.000
50.00
840
GUIDE
3D
Razorback Sucker
2.5”-6.5” | 6.4-16.5 cm
10”-27” | 25-69 cm
.8-12 lb | .4-5.4 kg
5-15 years
Smallmouth Bass
16.500
69.000
5.400
15.00
26000
GUIDE
3D
Smallmouth Bass
5.5”-15.5” | 14-39.4 cm
20”-55” | 51-140 cm
5-70 lb | 2.3-32 kg
20-30 years
Striped Bass
39.400
140.000
32.000
30.00
32000
GUIDE
3D
Striped Bass
Walleye
58000
4.5”-8.5” | 11.4-21.6 cm
22”-42” | 56-107 cm
3-7 lb | 1.4-3.2 kg
15-25 years
Walleye
21.600
107.000
3.200
25.00
58000
GUIDE
3D
Walleye
1.6”-2.4” | 4-6 cm; 3.5” | 9 cm (Max)
8”-12” | 20-30 cm; 18” | 46 cm (Max)
2-3.3 lb | .9-1.5 kg
6-8 years
Westslope Cutthroat Trout
6.000
30.000
1.500
8.00
1505
GUIDE
3D
Westslope Cutthroat Trout
2.5”-5.5” | 6.4-14 cm
10”-18” | 25-46 cm
2-5 lb | .9-2.3 kg
4-9 years
White Bass
14.000
46.000
2.300
9.00
15000
GUIDE
3D
White Bass
1”-2.5” | 2.5-6.4 cm
4”-10” | 10-25 cm
.5-1 lb | .2-.5 kg
7-13 years
Yellow Perch
6.400
25.000
0.500
13.00
12000
GUIDE
3D
Yellow Perch
Apache Trout (Oncorhynchus apache)
Scale illustration of an average Apache Trout compared to a human and other freshwater fish species

The Apache Trout (Oncorhynchus apache) is native to Arizona in the streams of the White Mountain. This freshwater fish is easy to identify thanks to the medium-sized dark spots evenly spaced onto the dorsal side and tail fin and extending below the lateral line except for the belly. The back and top of its head is dark olive, but below the lower jaw are the yellow and gold color marks. The belly as well takes on a golden color. A small black spot may be seen on each side of the pupil. This makes each pupil appear to have a black stripe running from side to side.

Apache Trout have a total length between 6”-16” (15-41 cm) and body height of 1.2”-3.1” (3-8 cm). The typical weight of the Apache Trout is in the range of .44-6 lb (.2-2.7 kg). The maximum body length of the Apache trout is 24” (61 cm) with a height of 5.1” (13 cm). Apache Trout have lifespans between 3-6 years.

Series of elevation illustrations of the Apache Trout
The Apache Trout (Oncorhynchus apache) is native to Arizona in the streams of the White Mountain. This freshwater fish is easy to identify thanks to the medium-sized dark spots evenly spaced onto the dorsal side and tail fin and extending below the lateral line except for the belly.

Apache Trout have a total length between 6”-16” (15-41 cm) and body height of 1.2”-3.1” (3-8 cm). The typical weight of the Apache Trout is in the range of .44-6 lb (.2-2.7 kg). The maximum body length of the Apache trout is 24” (61 cm) with a height of 5.1” (13 cm). Apache Trout have lifespans between 3-6 years.

Series of elevation illustrations of the Apache Trout
Apache Trout (Oncorhynchus apache)
Height:
1.2”-3.1” | 3-8 cm; 5.1” | 13 cm (Max)
Width:
Length:
6”-16” | 15-41 cm; 24” | 61 cm (Max)
Depth:
Weight:
.44-6 lb | .2-2.7 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Oncorhynchus apache
Lifespan
3-6 years

Drawings include:

Apache Trout side elevation, front

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Smallmouth Bass

The Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) are popular game fish of the family Centrarchidae that love the freshwater bodies of the warm zones of North America. It is also called bronzeback, brownbass, bareback bass, bronze bass, and smallie. Females are larger than males with the fish’s color, shape, and weight being influenced by their habitats.

They love clean water free of pollution, with males creating the nest during breeding and guarding the eggs. The Smallmouth Bass is separated from the largemouth bass by its lower jaw, which does not extend past the edge of its eyes and lines that fade with age.

Smallmouth Basss have a total length between 10”-27” (25-69 cm), body height of 2.5”-6.5” (6.4-16.5 cm), and an overall weight in the range of .8-12 lb (.4-5.4 kg). The typical lifespan of the Smallmouth Bass is 5-15 years.

Pair of dimensioned elevation illustrations of the Smallmouth Bass seen from the side and front
The Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) are popular game fish of the family Centrarchidae that love the freshwater bodies of the warm zones of North America. It is also called bronzeback, brownbass, bareback bass, bronze bass, and smallie. They love clean water free of pollution.

Smallmouth Basss have a total length between 10”-27” (25-69 cm), body height of 2.5”-6.5” (6.4-16.5 cm), and an overall weight in the range of .8-12 lb (.4-5.4 kg). The typical lifespan of the Smallmouth Bass is 5-15 years.

Pair of dimensioned elevation illustrations of the Smallmouth Bass seen from the side and front
Smallmouth Bass
Height:
2.5”-6.5” | 6.4-16.5 cm
Width:
Length:
10”-27” | 25-69 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.8-12 lb | .4-5.4 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Micropterus dolomieu
Lifespan
5-15 years

Drawings include:

Smallmouth Bass side elevation, front

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Bloater (Coregonus hoyi)
Scale illustration of an average Bloater compared to a human and other freshwater fish species

The Bloater (Coregonus hoyi) inhabits the Great Lakes except for Lake Erie. The fish is small and silver-colored. Actually, the ventral surface is silvery-white, while above the lateral line is a greenish tinge. The iridescence may be pink or purple. The Bloater is laterally compressed and possesses a long head, small eyes, short snout, and a small dorsal adipose. You may also see bloaters with two dorsal fins—a smaller one near the tail and a larger one close to the head. Females are quite larger than males. Bloaters have a narrow body and longer lifespan.

Bloaters have a total length between 9”-14.6” (23-37 cm) and body height of 1.8”-3” (4.5-7.5 cm). The typical weight of the Bloater is in the range of .4-.5 lb (.18-.2 kg). Bloaters have lifespans between 9-11 years.

Series of elevation illustrations of the Bloater
The Bloater (Coregonus hoyi) inhabits the Great Lakes except for Lake Erie. The fish is small and silver-colored. Actually, the ventral surface is silvery-white, while above the lateral line is a greenish tinge. The iridescence may be pink or purple. The Bloater is laterally compressed.

Bloaters have a total length between 9”-14.6” (23-37 cm) and body height of 1.8”-3” (4.5-7.5 cm). The typical weight of the Bloater is in the range of .4-.5 lb (.18-.2 kg). Bloaters have lifespans between 9-11 years.

Series of elevation illustrations of the Bloater
Bloater (Coregonus hoyi)
Height:
1.8”-3” | 4.5-7.5 cm
Width:
Length:
9”-14.6” | 23-37 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.4-.5 lb | .18-.2 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Coregonus hoyi
Lifespan
9-11 years

Drawings include:

Bloater side elevation, front

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Northern Pike

The Northern Pike (Esox lucius) are carnivorous fish of the family Esocidae distributed in both freshwater and brackish sluggish streams, shallow weedy lakes, and reservoirs of the northern hemisphere. They are also called American pike, Northern Jackfish, Great lakes pike, and love to snap at baits making them popular among anglers.

Northern Pike resemble muskellunge and the only way to separate the two are the light markings on the Northern pike when viewed on a darker background. These ambush predators may exhibit cannibalism when food is scarce and crossbreed with the muskellunge. They are solitary predators that migrate at spawning season and also to follow their prey.

Northern Pikes have a total length between 16”-26” (41-66 cm), body height of 2.25”-3.75” (5.7-9.5 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 1.5-4 lb (.7-1.8 kg). The typical lifespan of the Northern Pike is 10-25 years.

Scaled collection of measured drawings of Northern Pike in front and side poses
The Northern Pike (Esox lucius) are carnivorous fish of the family Esocidae distributed in both freshwater and brackish sluggish streams, shallow weedy lakes, and reservoirs of the northern hemisphere. They are also called American pike, Northern Jackfish, Great lakes pike.

Northern Pikes have a total length between 16”-26” (41-66 cm), body height of 2.25”-3.75” (5.7-9.5 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 1.5-4 lb (.7-1.8 kg). The typical lifespan of the Northern Pike is 10-25 years.

Scaled collection of measured drawings of Northern Pike in front and side poses
Northern Pike
Height:
2.25”-3.75” | 5.7-9.5 cm
Width:
Length:
16”-26” | 41-66 cm
Depth:
Weight:
1.5-4 lb | .7-1.8 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Esox lucius
Lifespan
10-25 years

Drawings include:

Northern Pike side elevation, front

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Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus)
Comparison illustration of the size of a Atlantic Sturgeon to other freshwater fish and a typical person

The Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) has a unique look. First, its tail is shark-like. Second, along its body are scutes, and the snout has four slender barbels. Finally, the body color may vary from bluish-black to olive-brown, although the belly is white. This anadromous fish is commonly found in coastal waters of New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and in the estuaries and coastal waters of Florida. The Atlantic Sturgeon live in groups, migrate upriver or to their birthplace to spawn while juveniles head to sea after one or two years. Unfortunately, it has a slow growth rate and late maturity.

Atlantic Sturgeon have a total length between 6’-8’ (1.83-2.44 m) and body height of 10.2”-13.8” (26-35 cm). The typical weight of the Atlantic Sturgeon is in the range of 198-794 lb (90-360 kg). The maximum body length of the Atlantic Sturgeon is 15’ (4.57 m) with a height of 26” (66 cm). Atlantic Sturgeons have lifespans between 30-60 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Atlantic Sturgeon in various poses
The Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) has a unique look. First, its tail is shark-like. Second, along its body are scutes, and the snout has four slender barbels. Finally, the body color may vary from bluish-black to olive-brown, although the belly is white.

Atlantic Sturgeon have a total length between 6’-8’ (1.83-2.44 m) and body height of 10.2”-13.8” (26-35 cm). The typical weight of the Atlantic Sturgeon is in the range of 198-794 lb (90-360 kg). The maximum body length of the Atlantic Sturgeon is 15’ (4.57 m) with a height of 26” (66 cm). Atlantic Sturgeons have lifespans between 30-60 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Atlantic Sturgeon in various poses
Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus)
Height:
10.2”-13.8” | 26-35 cm; 26” | 66 cm (Max)
Width:
Length:
6’-8’ | 1.83-2.44 m; 15’ | 4.57 m (Max)
Depth:
Weight:
198-794 lb | 90-360 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus
Lifespan
30-60 years

Drawings include:

Atlantic Sturgeon side elevation, front

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