Idaho AFS Logo

Fishes of Idaho

How are your identification skills? Do you know which are native and which were introduced? To see photos and descriptions, and learn more about Idaho fish, check out our Fishes of Idaho online database.

There are around 20,000 species of fish in the world. About 58% of these are marine (saltwater) fish, 41% are freshwater fish, and 1% are both. We have around 100 species in Idaho, and the list keeps growing as more non-native fish are released into Idaho waters. There are only 39 species of fish native to Idaho. The rest were introduced--some by accident, but most on purpose.

Codfishes (Gadids)

Burbot (Lota lota)

Native

Also known as "ling" burbot are the only freshwater member of the cod family. They are easily identified by their eel-like appearance, round tail, and a single barbel (whisker) protruding from their lower jaw. In Idaho, burbot are native only to the Kootenai River, where the population has declined since the construction of Libby Dam. Kootenai River burbot have recently been petitioned for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Among the many characteristics that make burbot an unusual fish is their spawning behavior. Whereas most fish spawn in the spring, summer, or fall, burbot spawn in the dead of winter. Spawning takes place in shallow water in a great writhing aggregation of fish.

Click thumbnails to enlarge