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.

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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
3D
Yellow Perch
Coho Salmon

The Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) is also called the Silver salmon or “silvers” and inhabits the North Pacific oceans, rivers, and coastal streams of Alaska and California. They belong to the family Salmonidae with adults having lighter bellies, silversides, and metallic blue backs. As an anadromous fish, the Coho Salmon shows distinct color patterns when in freshwater and ocean water.

Juveniles also show different color patterns when compared to adults. Coho Salmon are distinguished by their white gums, lower lobes having black spots, and large beaks during spawning in males. The indigenous people saw the fish as a representation of life and sustenance.

Coho Salmons have a total length between 18”-30” (46-76 cm), body height of 4.5”-7.5” (11.4-19 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 8-35 lb (3.6-16 kg). The typical lifespan of the Coho Salmon is 2-4 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Coho Salmon viewed from the front and side
The Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) is also called the Silver salmon or “silvers” and inhabits the North Pacific oceans, rivers, and coastal streams of Alaska and California. They belong to the family Salmonidae with adults having lighter bellies, silversides, and metallic blue backs.

Coho Salmons have a total length between 18”-30” (46-76 cm), body height of 4.5”-7.5” (11.4-19 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 8-35 lb (3.6-16 kg). The typical lifespan of the Coho Salmon is 2-4 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Coho Salmon viewed from the front and side
Coho Salmon
Height:
4.5”-7.5” | 11.4-19 cm
Width:
Length:
18”-30” | 46-76 cm
Depth:
Weight:
8-35 lb | 3.6-16 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Oncorhynchus kisutch
Lifespan
2-4 years

Drawings include:

Coho Salmon side elevation, front

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Lake Sturgeon
Dimensioned comparison drawing of the Lake Sturgeon compared to an average person

The Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) is not only a valuable gourmet food fish, but their caviar and isinglass are also used as specialty products. Because they are bottom feeders, they have barbels near their mouth for locating prey. They are also called rock sturgeon and swallow food because of lack of teeth, and belong to the family Acipenseridae besides being found in freshwater rivers and lakes in warm parts of North America.

Their torpedo-shaped bodies lack scales but bear rows of bony plates. The Lake Sturgeon is known to delay maturity and also spot an elongated spade-like snout and migrate for food and spawning locations.

Lake Sturgeon have a total length between 36”-72” (91-183 cm), body height of 5.5”-11” (14-28 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 30-100 lb (13.6-45.4 kg). The typical lifespan of the Lake Sturgeon is 55-150 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Lake Sturgeon viewed from the front and side
The Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) is not only a valuable gourmet food fish, but their caviar and isinglass are also used as specialty products. Because they are bottom feeders, they have barbels near their mouth for locating prey. They are also called rock sturgeon.

Lake Sturgeon have a total length between 36”-72” (91-183 cm), body height of 5.5”-11” (14-28 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 30-100 lb (13.6-45.4 kg). The typical lifespan of the Lake Sturgeon is 55-150 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Lake Sturgeon viewed from the front and side
Lake Sturgeon
Height:
5.5”-11” | 14-28 cm
Width:
Length:
36”-72” | 91-183 cm
Depth:
Weight:
30-100 lb | 13.6-45.4 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Acipenser fulvescens
Lifespan
55-150 years

Drawings include:

Lake Sturgeon side elevation, front

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Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi)
Dimensioned comparison drawing of the Westslope Cutthroat Trout compared to an average person and other freshwater fish

The upper Columbia River and Missouri river basin are the ideal water bodies to find the Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi). It is also called the common cutthroat trout, black-spotted trout, or red-throated trout. This freshwater fish is quite unique because it has teeth on the roof of its mouth, under its tongue, and in front of the mouth. The orange-hued skin is clustered with dark, freckle-like spots. Beneath the jaw is orange, red, or pink markings used to distinguish it from the Rainbow trout. It is also distinguished from other cutthroat species by the small spots visible on the tail, but none on the pectoral fin.

Westslope Cutthroat Trout have a total length between 8”-12” (20-30 cm) and body height of 1.6”-2.4” (4-6 cm). The typical weight of the Westslope Cutthroat Trout is in the range of 2-3.3 lb (.9-1.5 kg). The maximum body length of the Westslope Cutthroat Trout is 18” (46 cm) with a height of 3.5” (9 cm). Westslope Cutthroat Trout have lifespans between 6-8 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Westslope Cutthroat Trout
The upper Columbia River and Missouri river basin are the ideal water bodies to find the Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi). It is also called the common cutthroat trout, black-spotted trout, or red-throated trout. This freshwater fish is quite unique.

Westslope Cutthroat Trout have a total length between 8”-12” (20-30 cm) and body height of 1.6”-2.4” (4-6 cm). The typical weight of the Westslope Cutthroat Trout is in the range of 2-3.3 lb (.9-1.5 kg). The maximum body length of the Westslope Cutthroat Trout is 18” (46 cm) with a height of 3.5” (9 cm). Westslope Cutthroat Trout have lifespans between 6-8 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Westslope Cutthroat Trout
Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi)
Height:
1.6”-2.4” | 4-6 cm; 3.5” | 9 cm (Max)
Width:
Length:
8”-12” | 20-30 cm; 18” | 46 cm (Max)
Depth:
Weight:
2-3.3 lb | .9-1.5 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi
Lifespan
6-8 years

Drawings include:

Westslope Cutthroat Trout side elevation, front

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Atlantic Salmon
Measured comparison illustration of the size of a Atlantic Salmon to a typical person

The Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) is a very delicate fish, hence its presence is a good indicator of the health of an ecosystem. The fish is widespread in the Northern Atlantic oceans and surrounding rivers. Its life stage is full of unique names such as smolt, parr, fry, and alevin: depending on whether it is in the freshwater or saltwater phase.

Atlantic Salmon are members of the family Salmonidae migrating between the sea (feeding grounds) and rivers (breeding grounds). Adults are identified by their predominantly black spot above the lateral line plus highly developed teeth. Besides, they change appearance when they enter freshwater or salty water.

Atlantic Salmons have a total length between 28”-40” (71-102 cm), body height of 6.5”-9” (16.5-22.9 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 8-12 lb (3.6-5.4 kg). The typical lifespan of the Atlantic Salmon is 5-13 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Atlantic Salmon viewed from the front and side
The Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) is a very delicate fish, hence its presence is a good indicator of the health of an ecosystem. The fish is widespread in the Northern Atlantic oceans and surrounding rivers. Its life stage is full of unique names such as smolt, parr, fry, and alevin.

Atlantic Salmons have a total length between 28”-40” (71-102 cm), body height of 6.5”-9” (16.5-22.9 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 8-12 lb (3.6-5.4 kg). The typical lifespan of the Atlantic Salmon is 5-13 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Atlantic Salmon viewed from the front and side
Atlantic Salmon
Height:
6.5”-9” | 16.5-22.9 cm
Width:
Length:
28”-40” | 71-102 cm
Depth:
Weight:
8-12 lb | 3.6-5.4 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Salmo salar
Lifespan
5-13 years

Drawings include:

Atlantic Salmon side elevation, front

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Devil’s Hole Pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis)
Scale illustration of an average Devil’s Hole Pupfish compared to a human and other freshwater fish species

The long-lived, highly energetic, and less territorial Devils Hole Pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) is easily identified by the lack of pelvic fins. This is besides unique body colors between sexes and the young. Females and juveniles are yellow, while males are metallic blue. The Devils Hole Pupfish only exists in the Devils Hole. It is small, showing twelve rays in the dorsal fin, seventeen in each pectoral fin, and twenty-eight in the caudal fin. The caudal fin is convex, as the scales are toothed on the outer margin. The head and eyes are large, the anal fin elongated, and the jaws have one series of teeth. Males are larger than females.

Devil’s Hole Pupfish have a total length between .8”-1.2” (2-3 cm) and body height of .2”-.3” (.5-.75 cm). The typical weight of the Devil’s Hole Pupfish is in the range of .14-.21 oz (4-6 g). Devil’s Hole Pupfish have lifespans between 6-12 months.

Series of elevation illustrations of the Devil’s Hole Pupfish
The long-lived, highly energetic, and less territorial Devils Hole Pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) is easily identified by the lack of pelvic fins. This is besides unique body colors between sexes and the young. Females and juveniles are yellow, while males are metallic blue.

Devil’s Hole Pupfish have a total length between .8”-1.2” (2-3 cm) and body height of .2”-.3” (.5-.75 cm). The typical weight of the Devil’s Hole Pupfish is in the range of .14-.21 oz (4-6 g). Devil’s Hole Pupfish have lifespans between 6-12 months.

Series of elevation illustrations of the Devil’s Hole Pupfish
Devil’s Hole Pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis)
Height:
.2”-.3” | .5-.75 cm
Width:
Length:
.8”-1.2” | 2-3 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.14-.21 oz | 4-6 g
Area:
Scientific Name
Cyprinodon diabolis
Lifespan
6-12 months

Drawings include:

Devil’s Hole Pupfish side elevation, front

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