Field Guide

Fishes

Showing 1 - 10 of 20 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
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
White catfish side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ameiurus catus
Description
The white catfish is often stocked in fee-fishing lakes and other private waters. It sometimes escapes into natural stream systems. Unlike our other bullheads, it has a moderately (though not deeply) forked tail fin.
Media
Goldfish side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carassius auratus
Description
Goldfish are not native to North America. They often escape into the wild from bait buckets and other causes, but there are few self-sustaining populations in Missouri.
Media
Bighead carp side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hypophthalmichthys nobilis
Description
The bighead carp is an invasive Asian carp. It does not jump as frequently as its cousin the silver carp, but it also leaps from the water when disturbed, threatening boaters' safety.
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
Northern brook lamprey side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ichthyomyzon fossor
Description
The northern brook lamprey is a great example of a nonparasitic lamprey. While lampreys as a group are famous for being fish parasites, brook lampreys are essentially bottom feeders.
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.
Media
Black buffalo side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ictiobus niger
Description
Compared to Missouri’s other buffalofishes, the black buffalo is less abundant and widespread, and of the three, it occurs most often in places with strong currents.
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.