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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.

Catfishes (Ictalurids)

Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)


Channel catfish are native to the eastern and north central North America. They have been introduced into the Snake River, where they have established healthy reproducing populations as well as in many lakes around the state. They generally don't reproduce in Idaho lakes and are therefore stocked to maintain populations. Channel catfish are much larger than their cousins, bullheads. They are typically 2-10 pounds in weight, although they can get much larger. The Idaho state record is 31 pounds. They can be easily distinguished from other catfishes in Idaho by their forked tail versus the rounded tail of bullheads and flathead catfish. Channel catfish are generally bottom oriented, but they are highly piscivorous (fish eating) and use their eyesight more than most other catfish species.

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