Field Guide

Fishes

Showing 1 - 10 of 14 results
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
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.
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
Southern redbelly dace male in spawning colors, side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Notropis, Cyprinella, Hybognathus, Luxilus, and others
Description
Minnows — including shiners, chubs, stonerollers, dace, and carp — are members of the minnow family, the Cyprinidae. It is the largest of all fish families, and Missouri has about 70 species.
Media
Paddlefish side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Polyodon spathula
Description
Like a small shark, the paddlefish nearly lacks scales and has a cartilaginous skeleton; like a baleen whale, it filters its dinner from the water. But no other fish alive today has a paddle for a snout.
Media
Pallid sturgeon side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Scaphirhynchus albus
Description
The pallid sturgeon is federally and state endangered. This rarely found but widely distributed bottom dweller lives mostly in the Missouri and lower Mississippi rivers.
Media
Shortnose gar side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lepisosteus platostomus
Description
The shortnose gar is named for its relatively short, broad snout. Like other gars, it's a long, cylindrical fish with a long snout and numerous prominent teeth. The body is covered with hard, diamond-shaped scales.
Media
Silver carp side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hypophthalmichthys molitrix
Description
The silver carp is an invasive, nonnative fish. It is illegal to use it as live bait. Do not collect, transport, or dump it. It's related to the bighead carp, but its head is smaller and the eyes higher. The keel extends up to the base of the pectoral fins.
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 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.