Field Guide

Fishes

Showing 1 - 10 of 12 results
Media
Bigmouth buffalo side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ictiobus cyprinellus
Description
Missouri's largest sucker, the bigmouth buffalo occurs over much of the state and is most abundant in the Missouri River and its larger tributaries to the north.
Media
Northern snakehead side view illustration with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Channa argus and other Channa and Parachanna spp.
Description
Snakeheads are native to Asia and invasive in America. They resemble bowfins and can live in similar habitats. Note the extended anal fin and the pelvic fins located close to the pectoral fins and gills.
Media
Shovelnose sturgeon side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Scaphirhynchus platorynchus
Description
The shovelnose sturgeon's snout is flattened and shovel-shaped; the barbels are fringed, and the bases of the barbels are positioned to form a straight line.
Media
Channel catfish side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ictalurus punctatus
Description
The channel catfish is the official Missouri state fish. It is pale with dark spots and is found statewide in a variety of habitats, preferring large, rather turbid streams with low or moderate gradients.
Media
Flathead catfish side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pylodictis olivaris
Description
The flathead catfish has a broad, flattened head with small eyes on top. The lower jaw projects beyond the upper jaw. It occurs in most of the large streams of Missouri, preferring places with a slow current.
Media
Grass carp side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ctenopharyngodon idella
Description
Grass carp are large-bodied with a broad head and a terminal transverse mouth. The scales appear crosshatched. A native of east Asia, it is now widely distributed in the Missouri, Mississippi, and St. Francis rivers and in impoundments.
Media
Black carp side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Mylopharyngodon piceus
Description
The black carp is a large, invasive carp from Asia. It eats mussels and snails and can damage populations of native mollusks. It is illegal to transport live black carp across state lines.
Media
Lake sturgeon side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Acipenser fulvescens
Description
The lake sturgeon is Missouri’s largest sturgeon and is rare and endangered in our state. Note its conical (not shovel-nosed) snout. Despite its name, in Missouri this fish is almost always found in big rivers, not lakes.
Media
Alligator gar side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Atractosteus spatula (formerly Lepisosteus spatula)
Description
The alligator gar is Missouri's largest gar and has a distinctively short, broad snout. Populations are declining. This fish once occurred in the Mississippi River at least as far upstream as the mouth of the Illinois River and in major tributaries.
Media
Smallmouth buffalo side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ictiobus bulbalus
Description
The smallmouth buffalo is nearly as common and widespread in Missouri as the bigmouth buffalo. Identify it by its small, nearly horizontal mouth and the strongly keeled forward part of its back.
See Also
Media
Photo of a three-toed amphiuma in an aquarium.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Amphiuma tridactylum
Description
The three-toed amphiuma is an eel-like, completely aquatic salamander. It has very small fore- and hind limbs, each with three very small toes. In Missouri it’s found only in the Bootheel region.
Media
Photo of researcher holding a gilled siren
Species Types
Scientific Name
Siren intermedia nettingi
Description
The western lesser siren is an eel-like, aquatic salamander with external gills, small eyes, small forelimbs with four toes, and no hind limbs. In Missouri, it’s found mostly in the Bootheel and northward in counties near the Mississippi River.

About Fishes in Missouri

Missouri has more than 200 kinds of fish, more than are found in most neighboring states. Fishes live in water, breathe with gills, and have fins instead of legs. Most are covered with scales. Most fish in Missouri “look” like fish and could never be confused with anything else. True, lampreys and eels have snakelike bodies — but they also have fins and smooth, slimy skin, which snakes do not.