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
Bowfin side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Amia calva
Description
The bowfin is a stout-bodied, nearly cylindrical fish. It is most abundant in the Mississippi Lowlands, though it occurs along the entire length of the Mississippi River.
Media
Chain pickerel side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Esox niger
Description
The chain pickerel has an elongated body, a snout shaped like a duck’s bill, and a large mouth with many sharp teeth. The back and sides are olive or yellowish brown with a chainlike pattern of dark 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
Longnose gar side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lepisosteus osseus
Description
The longnose gar has a longer, narrower snout than our other three gars and is the most widely distributed gar in Missouri.
Media
Muskellunge side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Esox masquinongy
Description
The muskellunge is long and slender, with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. This big, nonnative pike is stocked in selected lakes in the Ozark region and near St. Louis.
Media
Northern pike side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Esox lucius
Description
The largest pike native to Missouri, the northern pike can be more than 4 feet long and weigh more than 40 pounds. Missouri is on the southern edge of the range of this species. Because of its rarity here, it is of little importance as a game fish.
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
Redfin pickerel side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Esox americanus
Description
The redfin pickerel (or grass pickerel) is the most common and widely distributed pike in Missouri. It is also the smallest, seldom exceeding 10 or 12 inches in length.
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.