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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.

Minnows (Cyprinids)

Common carp (Cyprinus carpio)


The common carp was native to Eurasia and introduced into the U.S. in 1877. The U.S. Fish Commission sent a shipment of carp to Bear Lake and Oneida Counties, Idaho in 1882. These shipments continued to Idaho until the late 1890's. The carp is now well established in all drainages of the state except the Coeur d'Alene, Pend Oreille and Kootenai systems. This species prefers warm, moderately shallow water of streams, rivers, natural lakes, and man-made impoundments where aquatic vegetation is plentiful. They tolerate turbid, polluted waters with low dissolved oxygen. Carp spawn in spring and early summer in shallow, weedy areas. Females produce thousands to millions of eggs, depending on their size. The eggs are distributed over a large area, sink and adhere to the bottom. Carp are omnivores, feeding largely on plant material and a variety of aquatic invertebrates. The species is generally considered undesirable because of their habit of stirring up the bottom while feeding, causing siltation and turbidity. This habitat alteration generally has a negative impact on native fish species.

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