Freshwater Fish Identification Quiz

By: Bambi Turner

Part of the sunfish family and sometimes referred to as Potter's fish, the largemouth bass is native to North America. Known for its over-sized mouth, it is the state fish of Georgia, Mississippi and Indiana.

The black crappie is one of two types of crappie, and can be distinguished from the white crappie by the patterns of black spots found on its scales. These fish are popular with anglers because they are relatively easy to catch, especially while the fish is feeding.

The most common and most frequently fished catfish in North America, the channel catfish is found throughout the eastern two-thirds of the country. It's known for its exceptional sense of smell and taste, which makes the fish an efficient feeder.

Part of the salmon family, the rainbow trout ranks among the five most popular game fish in the United States. This species usually lives three to four years in the wild, and typically ranges from 7 to 12 inches in length.

Also known as the king salmon or spring salmon, the chinook is the largest species within the Pacific Salmon genus. Native to the northern Pacific Ocean and the rivers of western North America, this fish can be up to three feet long and weigh 50 pounds.

The yellow perch is native to North America, and also known as the American or lake perch. They can be distinguished by their yellow-brown body and olive stripes. A typical yellow perch ranges from 4 to 10 inches long.

Also known as the bream or brim, the bluegill is a member of the sunfish family. It gets its name from the deep blue coloring on its face, and is typically found east of the Rocky Mountains.

Found on the Atlantic coast of Canada and the U.S., the striped bass is also known as the rockfish. According to early historical documents, this fish played an important role in keeping early European colonists fed in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The fish sold in grocery stores under the name tilapia includes more than 100 species belonging to the cichlid family. This mild, easy to prepare fish is one of the most widely consumed in the U.S.

Found throughout the northern hemisphere, the northern pike has an olive-green body that is long and slender. This state fish of North Dakota ranges from 3 to 7 pounds, and is also known as the American pike or Great Lakes pike.

Gars have very long eel-like bodies and heavy armored scales. They are found primarily in shallow water throughout the northern Caribbean, and have a long jaw and sharp teeth.

The freshwater drum or sheepshead is easy to spot because of its humped back and over-sized scales. This bottom feeder prefers live bait like crayfish and minnows over artificial lures and spoons.

Though it looks like a shark, the sawfish is actually a type of ray. This fish has a long snout known as a rostrum, complete with dozens of teeth along the edges. The rostrum generally makes up 25 percent of the fish's body length, which can be as long as 20 feet.

Native to Europe and Asia, the common carp can now be found all over the world. One fish can lay a million eggs a year, making this fish an invasive species in many non-native areas.

Also known as the silver salmon, the coho is a type of Pacific salmon that typically ranges from 7 to 11 pounds. It has a silver and dark blue body until spawning time, when it develops deep red sides and a rosy belly.

The state fish of Oklahoma, the white bass ranges from 10 to 12 inches in length and has a silvery-green hue. They prefer live bait, and can be found throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The brown bullhead is around a foot long on average and has an olive or yellow-brown body. Like all catfish, it has whiskers around its mouth that are used to see, smell and taste -- which helps make up for the creature's poor eyesight.

American shad live in the sea, but always return to freshwater to spawn. They can be found throughout the North Atlantic and range from 3 to 8 pounds. This fish is popular with diners because of its delicate flavor and high omega-3 content.

Also known as the wiper or whiterock bass, the hybrid bass is a blend of the striped and white bass. It looks similar to the striped bass, but can be distinguished from that species by its stripes, which are broken rather than continuous.

Found throughout North America, the alewife is a type of herring that can be identified by a single dark spot just behind its head. This thin silver fish made headlines in the mid-to-late 20th century for invading the Great Lakes and harming native fish populations.

Found all over the U.S. and Canada, the sauger weighs less than a pound on average. This fish closely resembles the walleye, but can be identified by its spotted dorsal fin.

The muskellunge or muskie is the largest member of the pike family, and typically weighs between 15 and 36 pounds. This fish ranges from silver to brown or green in color, and is found throughout the Great Lakes and Tennessee River Valley.

Found throughout the north Atlantic and its rivers, the Atlantic salmon is one of the largest salmon species. It can measure more than 30 inches long and weight more than 12 pounds. Their population is threatened by over-fishing and habitat destruction, with conservation efforts in place to protect their numbers in some areas.

The blueback herring looks similar to the alewife, and has spiny scales known as scutes along its belly. This fish is found along the east coast of North America, and can be distinguished by its blue-green back.

The slimy sculpin loves cold water, and can be found in the U.S., Canada and Russia. It's free of scales, and uses a characteristic darting motion that makes it easy to identify.

Commonly called a sockeye, the kokanee salmon is found through the northern Pacific. It can measure three feet long and up to 15 pounds, and you can tell when it's spawning by its bright red hue.

The Atlantic sturgeon is born in fresh water, lives most of its life at sea, then returns to the fresh water of its birth to spawn. It has a shark-like tail, bony plates on its body, and can weigh as much as 800 pounds.

The bighead carp is easy to identify because of its eyes, which are located low on its head and point downward. The fish is dark gray with a white belly, has no teeth and its head is free of scales.

Found along the east coast of North America, the American eel has a snake-like body that's covered with mucous, which makes it hard to spot its scales. This fish can measure up to four feet long and weigh as much as 17 pounds. And no, the American eel is not "electric."

Also known as gambezi, the mosquitofish is smaller than most fish -- females are larger than males and are typically smaller than 3 inches long. They get their name from their love of mosquito larvae, and serve as an important food source for many larger fish.

A type of river herring, the shad is an important source of food for birds and larger fish. Its numbers are declining in some areas, such as the Chesapeake Bay, due to habitat loss and over-fishing, resulting in conversation efforts.

Also known as a rock sturgeon, the lake sturgeon has a characteristic torpedo shape complete with bony plates. This bottom feeder can be as long as 7 feet, and weigh as much as 200 pounds.

This highly aggressive member of the sunfish family can survive in low-oxygen waters and is often confused with the rock bass. The warmouth bass is also known as the warmouth sunfish.

The mountain whitefish loves to hang out in deep, cold clear water. This bottom feeder is often found in the Pacific Northwest, Hudson Bay and Missouri River. It has a silvery body and usually weighs less than 6 pounds.

Smelt are commonly found in the Great Lakes, as well as many lakes in Europe. This small silver fish is generally no longer than 8 inches, and is frequently cooked and eaten whole.

Wanna see a true horror story at sea? Look inside the mouth of a lamprey. This fish has an eel-like body, with circular rows of teeth in its mouth that look like something straight out of a nightmare.

The diamond darter gets its name because of the way its translucent scales reflect the sunlight. Common in the Ohio River Basin, this olive-patterned fish generally ranges from 3 to 5 inches long.

Native to Africa and Asia, the snakehead is a notorious invasive species in many other parts of the world. Ranging from 10 inches to more than 3 feet long, this fish can breathe air, allowing it to travel great distances on land.

Sunfish include more than 37 species, all native to North America. This family of fish is popular with anglers, but the fish is not typically sold for consumption, though most can be eaten.

The smallest member of the carp family, goldfish are popular in home aquariums. They come in many varieties beyond the basic golden orange, and most are quite small -- though goldfish weighing two pounds or more have been found in captivity.

The grass carp consumes mostly aquatic plants, so it's often introduced in non-native areas to help control underwater weeds. Because it requires very specific conditions to breed, it can be introduced to new habitats with little threat to native species.

A popular sporting fish, the brown trough is silver with black spots and a white underside. They range widely in size, with some as small as 2 pounds and others weighing 40 pounds or more.

Part of the sunfish family, the smallmouth bass is brown, with dark brown stripes and characteristic red eyes. They top out at around 12 pounds and just over 2 feet in length.

The bowfin comes to the surface to get air occasionally, using its swim bladder like a lung. Their diets primarily consist of other fish, frogs, snakes, and even turtles.

The smallest and most prevalent Pacific salmon species, the pink salmon starts off silver, changing color when it spawns. Weighing in around 5 pounds, this fish can be identified by the characteristic oval black spots along its back.

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About This Quiz

Can you tell a salmon from a sunfish, or northern pike from a rainbow trout with just a single glance? Know which fish have "whiskers," eel-like bodies, or change color during spawning season? If you think you're an expert of all things angling, prove it by acing this quiz!

Around 71 percent of the planet is covered by water, but more than 96 percent of that is made up of salt water in the form of oceans. That leaves just 3 percent of the world's water supply in the form of fresh water, which may consist of rivers, streams, lakes or even glaciers. 

While there are an estimated 30,000-plus different species of fish on Earth, more than 40 percent dwell in that slim volume of fresh water, with the remaining 50-plus percent hunkering down in seas and oceans. Of course, these freshwater-dwelling fish have some unique physiological traits that allow them to live where they do. Not only do they have specialized kidneys, with gills designed to filter salt and gasses, but even their scales are different -- making it easier for them to moderate water diffusion through their skin.

With so many freshwater fish to be found, it can be difficult to tell one species from another. Think you've got what it takes? Take this quiz to find out!

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