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
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
Colorado Pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius)
Dimensioned comparison drawing of the Colorado Pikeminnow compared to an average person and other freshwater fish

The Colorado Pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius) is known for several things. First, it is the largest minnow in North America. Second, it is long-lived and has the longest distance spawning migration. This fish is indigenous to the Colorado River and its major tributaries. Its body is elongated, including the cone-shaped, flattened head. The back may be bright olive green, underside white, and sides pale yellowish. The caudal fin has dark spots, and the dorsal and anal fins have nine rays. The teeth are long and hooked. Adult Colorado pikeminnows spawn in clear water, which is usually the previous breeding site.

Colorado Pikeminnow have a total length between 2’-3’ (61-91 cm) and body height of 3.7”-5.9” (9.5-15 cm). The typical weight of the Colorado Pikeminnow is in the range of 40-79 lb (18-36 kg). The maximum body length of the Colorado Pikeminnow is 6’ (183 cm) with a height of 11.4” (29 cm). Colorado Pikeminnow have lifespans between 40-50 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Colorado Pikeminnow
The Colorado Pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius) is known for several things. First, it is the largest minnow in North America. Second, it is long-lived and has the longest distance spawning migration. This fish is indigenous to the Colorado River and its major tributaries. Its body is elongated.

Colorado Pikeminnow have a total length between 2’-3’ (61-91 cm) and body height of 3.7”-5.9” (9.5-15 cm). The typical weight of the Colorado Pikeminnow is in the range of 40-79 lb (18-36 kg). The maximum body length of the Colorado Pikeminnow is 6’ (183 cm) with a height of 11.4” (29 cm). Colorado Pikeminnow have lifespans between 40-50 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Colorado Pikeminnow
Colorado Pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius)
Height:
3.7”-5.9” | 9.5-15 cm; 11.4” | 29 cm (Max)
Width:
Length:
2’-3’ | 61-91 cm; 6’ | 183 cm (Max)
Depth:
Weight:
40-79 lb | 18-36 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Ptychocheilus lucius
Lifespan
40-50 years

Drawings include:

Colorado Pikeminnow side elevation, front

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Lake Trout

The Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush) is loved both as a food fish and game fish. It features in the annual lake trout fishing derby of the people of Geneva and New York. The fish prefers cold freshwater lakes and rivers in northern North America.

Lake Trout are also called mackinaw, Lake char, and grey trout, and are members of the family Salmonidae distinguished by its deeply forked caudal fin, greenish body, and yellow or cream spots on its head, body, caudal, and dorsal fin. They are the largest char members having later maturity and both low reproduction and growth potential.

Lake Trout have a total length between 20”-36” (51-91 cm), body height of 4”-7” (10.2-17.8 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 4-22 lb (1.8-10 kg). The typical lifespan of the Lake Trout is 10-40 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Lake Trout in front and side poses
The Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush) is loved both as a food fish and game fish. It features in the annual lake trout fishing derby of the people of Geneva and New York. The fish prefers cold freshwater lakes and rivers in northern North America.

Lake Trout have a total length between 20”-36” (51-91 cm), body height of 4”-7” (10.2-17.8 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 4-22 lb (1.8-10 kg). The typical lifespan of the Lake Trout is 10-40 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Lake Trout in front and side poses
Lake Trout
Height:
4”-7” | 10.2-17.8 cm
Width:
Length:
20”-36” | 51-91 cm
Depth:
Weight:
4-22 lb | 1.8-10 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Salvelinus namaycush
Lifespan
10-40 years

Drawings include:

Lake Trout side elevation, front

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Yellow Perch

The Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) is native to most freshwater bodies of North America. They are members of the family Percidae, preferring lakes and larger rivers with clear water. It is also called American perch, striped perch, perch, and preachers. Adults are golden yellow with bodies laterally compressed. They sport two dorsal fins and eyes either ranging from green to yellow. Females grow faster, live longer, and are often larger than males. Spawning is communal, and the fish is highly prized by both anglers and commercial fishermen. The Yellow Perch prefers forming schools as protection to young fish, though males and females have separate schools.

Yellow Perch have a total length between 4”-10” (10-25 cm), body height of 1”-2.5” (2.5-6.4 cm), and an overall weight in the range of .5-1 lb (.2-.5 kg). The typical lifespan of the Yellow Perch is 7-13 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Yellow Perch in front and side poses
The Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) is native to most freshwater bodies of North America. They are members of the family Percidae, preferring lakes and larger rivers with clear water. It is also called American perch, striped perch, perch, and preachers. Adults are golden yellow.

Yellow Perch have a total length between 4”-10” (10-25 cm), body height of 1”-2.5” (2.5-6.4 cm), and an overall weight in the range of .5-1 lb (.2-.5 kg). The typical lifespan of the Yellow Perch is 7-13 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Yellow Perch in front and side poses
Yellow Perch
Height:
1”-2.5” | 2.5-6.4 cm
Width:
Length:
4”-10” | 10-25 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.5-1 lb | .2-.5 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Perca flavescens
Lifespan
7-13 years

Drawings include:

Yellow Perch side elevation, front

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Razorback Sucker (Xyrauchen texanus)
Comparison illustration of the size of a Razorback Sucker to other freshwater fish and a typical person

The Razorback Sucker (Xyrauchen texanus) is identified by the keel between its head and dorsal fin. This sharp-edged bulge gives rise to its name. This predorsal keel is also used to distinguish it from juveniles, which lack keel. You will mostly see it in the Colorado River Basin. This fish is long-lived and prefers to spawn in the deep waters of the river. The upper part of the fish is olive or brown-black, while the lower part is lighter yellow. It is relatively large, with females being longer and more robust. It has elongated filaments, long snouts, long, rounded, ventrally compressed heads, and males show longer anal and pelvic fins.

Razorback Suckers have a total length between 1.6’-3’ (48-91 cm) and body height of 3.5”-7.1” (9-18 cm). The typical weight of the Razorback Sucker is in the range of 6.6-13.2 lb (3-6 kg). Razorback Suckers have lifespans between 35-50 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Razorback Sucker in various poses
The Razorback Sucker (Xyrauchen texanus) is identified by the keel between its head and dorsal fin. This sharp-edged bulge gives rise to its name. This predorsal keel is also used to distinguish it from juveniles, which lack keel. You will mostly see it in the Colorado River Basin.

Razorback Suckers have a total length between 1.6’-3’ (48-91 cm) and body height of 3.5”-7.1” (9-18 cm). The typical weight of the Razorback Sucker is in the range of 6.6-13.2 lb (3-6 kg). Razorback Suckers have lifespans between 35-50 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Razorback Sucker in various poses
Razorback Sucker (Xyrauchen texanus)
Height:
3.5”-7.1” | 9-18 cm
Width:
Length:
1.6’-3’ | 48-91 cm
Depth:
Weight:
6.6-13.2 lb | 3-6 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Xyrauchen texanus
Lifespan
35-50 years

Drawings include:

Razorback Sucker side elevation, front

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American Shad

The American Shad (Alosa sapidissima) is a fish loved for three primary reasons. First, for its roe. Second for its meat rich in omega-3 fatty acid and third, for recreational purposes like sport fishing and the annual shad festival. The fish inhabits the coastal waters of North America preferring to spend most of its time in the Atlantic ocean and only migrate to freshwater when it wants to spawn. The American Shad is also called Atlantic shad, herring jacks, or Potomac shad. They are classified under the family Clupeidae and recognized by their distinct keel on the belly, moderately compressed bodies, and sharp saw-like scales.

American Shad have a total length between 19”-24” (48-61 cm), body height of 5”-6.75” (12.7-17.1 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 3-8 lb (1.4-3.6 kg). The typical lifespan of the American Shad is 6-10 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of American Shad in front and side poses
The American Shad (Alosa sapidissima) is a fish loved for three primary reasons. First, for its roe. Second for its meat rich in omega-3 fatty acid and third, for recreational purposes like sport fishing and the annual shad festival. The fish inhabits the coastal waters of North America.

American Shad have a total length between 19”-24” (48-61 cm), body height of 5”-6.75” (12.7-17.1 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 3-8 lb (1.4-3.6 kg). The typical lifespan of the American Shad is 6-10 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of American Shad in front and side poses
American Shad
Height:
5”-6.75” | 12.7-17.1 cm
Width:
Length:
19”-24” | 48-61 cm
Depth:
Weight:
3-8 lb | 1.4-3.6 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Alosa sapidissima
Lifespan
6-10 years

Drawings include:

American Shad side elevation, front

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