Can You Identify These Canadian Fish?

Ian Fortey

Image: Humberto Ramirez/Moment/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Fish are a big part of the wildlife in Canada, and you can see why if you take a look at a map of the country. Over 9% of Canada’s surface is freshwater lakes - there are over 30,000 of them across the country including the massive Great Lakes! And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that Canada’s bordered on three sides by ocean waters. If you’re a fish, Canada is the place you want to be.

There’s a healthy commercial fishing industry in Canada; the country exports over $6 billion worth of fish per year and over 72,000 Canadians make their living thanks to fishing and fishing-related industries. There's also plenty of sport fishing for those who are into it as well. Of course, the fish are a favorite of the wildlife too. Who hasn’t seen those iconic images of bears in a crisp, Canadian river catching salmon? Or a polar bear in the Arctic fishing for char?

While a lot of the species in Canada can be found all over the world, others are definitely a little rarer. How many do you think you’ll be able to recognize? If you’re feeling a little fishy, dive in and take the quiz now!

This large fish has a snout full of sharp teeth. What is it?

This predatory fish will aggressively go after smaller fish, a fact that makes the northern pike a favorite of fishermen since that means they're more than eager to go after bait. If you're catching one to eat, make sure you clean it well since they have a layer of mucus coating their scales.

Can you name these colorful little fish that usually weigh less than a pound?

Pumpkinseeds are a kind of sunfish and tend to stay under a foot in length. While very common in Canadian waters, they were introduced to European lakes and have become an invasive species.

This hard-sounding species is known for its red eyes that bulge a bit. Can you identify it?

The rock bass is known by a handful of names including goggle-eye, red eye and rock perch. They're distinctive from other similar fish because of the anal fin which has 6 spines instead of the usual 3.

Can you name this pale, bottom-dwelling fish eats worms, clams, and insects?

White suckers are freshwater fish that have a distinctive, down-turned snout to allow for bottom-feeding. During spawning, a single female can lay between 20,000 and 50,000 eggs.

This invasive fish can be found all over the world, not just Canada. Which is it?

The common carp is actually native to Europe and Asia but has made its way all around the globe and can be found in nearly all waters except at the frozen poles.

These little guys will often be sold in pet stores as feeder fish. What are they?

When a fathead minnow is in danger, it will actually release a chemical substance through their skin when attacked. Other fathead minnows will then sense this alarm substance in the water and know that whatever is around is a danger to be avoided.

Can you identify this small fish, which can be fished all year round?

Bluegill are typically very small fish that weigh under a pound. That said, a record bluegill was caught in 1950 that weighed 4 pounds, 12 ounces.

These large fish are valued not just for their meat but their fatty acids. What are they?

Some species of salmon in Canada, like the Chinook salmon, can grow to be remarkably large. While they're usually anywhere between 10 lb and 50 lb there have been records of salmon reaching well over 100 lb.

This is the most popular game fish in North America. What is it?

Largemouth bass may have large mouths but the rest of the fish isn't particularly big. A 5 lb bass is generally considered to be a healthy size but the world record is over 22 lb. Since bass never stop growing, you can tell you have an older fish if it's a big one.

Can you name this invasive species that was first seen in the Great Lakes in 1986?

Ruffe are believed to have been introduced to Canadian waters in the ballast of ships coming from Europe. They've taken up residence in the lakes and are proving to be something of a pest for native species which have trouble competing with them.

This fish is highly sought after for its meat which can be used as fillets or in fish and chips. What is it?

Atlantic halibut is the largest type of flatfish in the world and can grow to be over 8 feet in length. Halibut have been fished so heavily that they have been on the endangered species list since 1996.

Known for its ability to thrive in murky water, what fish is this?

The bowfin is sometimes called a mud dog or just a mudfish. This is because the bowfin is able to survive in very poorly oxygenated and dank-looking water. It's not fished commercially as the meat is considered pretty low quality.

This popular sport fishing fish is growing in popularity as a food fish. What is it?

Yellow perch are typically small fish weighing only around 2 lb. Often people will just refer to them as "perch" and leave off the yellow part, but there are actually 16 different species of perch in Canada.

Can you name this torpedo-like fish, which can be caught all year round and is very popular for ice fishing?

Even though chain pickerel can lay up to 50,000 eggs during spawning, you wouldn't really consider them good parents. Unlike many species of fish, the adult pickerel won't stick around to guard their young.

When these fish are canned they're often called sardines. What are they?

Herring is one of the most widely sought after fish in the world and is remarkably versatile as a food source. Aside from canned sardines, popular herring dishes include smoked herring, pickled herring and herring roe.

These colorful fish are considered some of the most beautiful freshwater fish in Canada. What are they?

While some fish are known for having white meat and others darker orange or pink meat, the meat of the rainbow trout very much depends on the diet of the fish. White meat is not uncommon, but many fish can have pink or even a dark red meat, especially if they're farm raised.

Can you name this fish that has adapted to see better in murky water?

Walleye are a member of the perch family. They got the name thanks to a special layer of pigment in their eyes that reflects light and allows them to see in murky water. The trade-off is that they are light sensitive so they tend to stay away from the surface of the water.

This distinctive-looking fish can live for over 20 years. What is it?

The flathead catfish is the second largest species of catfish and is considered a good fish for eating provided it came from clean water. Contrary to popular belief, catfish can't sting you and the barbels or "whiskers" on their face are completely harmless. That said, their pectoral fins can be sharp and should be treated with caution.

This extremely ugly fish is prized for its meat which many people compare to lobster. What is it?

Monkfish are sometimes called frog fish and sea devils and it's easy to see why. Despite their looks, they're widely fishes and there has been some concern that over-fishing could lead to population problems in the future. At least one British supermarket chain banned the sale of monkfish because of those concerns.

This flat fish is known for being slippery. What is it?

Dover sole is a popular food fish but is rarely found in its whole form. This is because the skin of the fish secretes an extremely slimy mucus that makes it incredibly hard to hold on to.

Can you name this west coast fish?

Lingcod are only found on the west coast of North America and have been a food source for many years. Sometimes the flesh of the fish will have a green tinge to it when it's raw which can be off-putting to some people, but it is harmless and will turn white once it's cooked.

What is this little guy, who is actually a member of the shark family?

The spiny dogfish is a shark species that despite its small size is known for being very tenacious. They're also expert long-distance swimmers. One dogfish that was tagged in Washington State was later found in Japan.

This long-lived fish is highly valued for its caviar. What is it?

The Atlantic sturgeon is something of a living fossil. These giant fish, which can grow to 15 feet in length, have existed for millions of years. In fact, the oldest known fossil of a sturgeon was 85 million years old.

Worth millions to the Canadian fishing industry, what is this fish?

Bluefin tuna are caught on the Atlantic coast of Canada and are much larger fish than you'd expect based on the little cans you see in grocery stores. An adult bluefin can weigh over 800 lb. They're also one of the most highly valued fish in the world - a single fish once sold in Japan for $1.7 million.

This long-lived fish is also known as Black Cod or Butterfish. What is it?

Sablefish got the nickname butterfish thanks to a rich, buttery flavor which makes it a welcome addition to menus. It's also known for a long lifespan and some have lived for over 90 years.

The aggressive-sounding fish is a member of the bass family. What is it?

The warmouth bass is often confused with the rock bass since the two look very similar and they are often called by the same nicknames like "Red Eye." The key to telling them apart is to check those fin spines because the warmouth will only have three while the rock bass has six.

These little fish are a popular food source for humans and animals. What are they?

Despite their small size, smelt are very popular for eating because of how you can fish them up. They often move together in groups of potentially millions, so during a smelt run when the fish come inland to spawn, many people will scoop up hundreds of them at a time and have a cookout right there.

This cold-water fish is popular because of its lean, mild-flavored meat. What is it?

Haddock are a member of the cod family and have adapted well to life in water that is almost freezing cold. It's one of the most popular fish for eating and can often be found in grocery stores fresh or filleted.

This sucker fish is sometimes called the big-sawed sucker or the mullet. What is it?

The river redhorse is usually found in medium-sized to large rivers and gets its the red part of its name from a red-tinted dorsal fin. The species is in decline in Canada but still shows up in rivers throughout Ontario and Quebec.

Can you name this cold-water fish known for its colorful dorsal fins?

The Arctic grayling is fairly popular with sports fishermen because they're known for having a nearly insatiable appetite. They're especially popular with fly fishermen because they're more than eager to rise and catch flies if they see them.

This silvery fish is the freshwater version of the sockeye salmon. What is it?

Kokanee are landlocked sockeye salmon, meaning they spend their whole lives in freshwater, never going to the sea as a sockeye will. They're also the inspiration for a beer of the same name in Canada.

This unfortunately named fish can be found in lakes and rivers throughout Canada. What is it?

Black crappies didn't get their name as a crafty insult, it's actually from the French word "crapet" which was just a generic name for all kinds of similar fish.

What is this unusually named fish?

The name Dolly Varden comes from a book by Charles Dickens. How did it become a fish? There's a popular story that some anglers had caught the fish in the 1870s and were wishing it had a better name. This inspired a teenage girl who overheard to suggest Dolly Varden, after a brightly dressed character in the book she was reading at the time.

During spawning season, these fish develop vivid red bellies. What are they?

The Arctic char is the Northernmost freshwater fish in the world. Most of the year they have a rather pale stomach, but during spawning season the males can become an intense shade of red, gold, yellow or orange.

This fish is the largest member of the pike family. What is it?

The muskellunge can be a pretty big fish, sometimes getting over 60 lb. They're so large that they often have no natural predators in the wild, aside from the odd angler.

This trout species is a hybrid of two other species. What is it?

The splake is a mix of the speckled trout and the lake trout. Speckled + lake gives you splake.

These saltwater fish are hunted for their meat and their live oil. What are they?

Cod liver oil is something you'll probably find in most pharmacies and it's valued for its high levels of vitamins A, D, E, and omega-3 fatty acids.

This invasive species can reportedly travel on land for short distances. What is it?

The northern snakehead is an invasive species native to China. Several species of snakehead have been reportedly seen on land traveling short distances from one body of water to another by wiggling their body forward across the ground.

Can you name this eel-like fish?

The northern brook lamprey only grows to about 6 inches in length. It also has a very creepy round, jawless mouth with teeth arranged in a circle.

This fish is known for having prominent canine-like teeth. What is it?

The spotted wolffish gets its name from the dramatic and powerful teeth which look a lot like what you'd expect to find in a dog's mouth. Fortunately, these fish aren't known to be overly aggressive so they don't bite humans very often.

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