Fisheries and Pond Management Extension

Fish Identification2017-07-06T14:14:37-04:00

Fish Identification

Recommended Pond Species

Species Photo Description
Largemouth bass LMB The largemouth bass is the largest of the sunfish family. It typically has greenish to brownish sides with a dark lateral bar that may extend from the eye to the tail. Unlike other black bass, its jaw extends beyond the rear edge of the eye. Unlike the sunfishes such as bluegill, redear sunfish, and crappie, largemouth bass have two dorsal fins that are nearly separated by a deep dip.
Bluegill BLUEGILL Bluegill are round and laterally compressed, with small mouths that are angled upward. Coloration can vary greatly with age, season, and sex, but two characteristics usually persist that can be used to distiguish this species. These are black spots that are found at the rear edge of the gill cover, and at base of the posterior dorsal fin. Green sunfish also have black spots at the posterior dorsal as well, but can be distiguished by their large mouth and light margined “ear flap.”. In general bluegill are somewhat lavender and bronze, with about six dark bars on their sides. Males can be very dark or colorful during the spawning season.
Redear sunfish REDEAR Also known as a “shellcracker” because of its tendency to eat snails, the redear sunfish is similar in shape to bluegill but lacks the distinguishing black dot on the dorsal fin. Redears have a characteristic red or orange margin around the “ear flap,” and the mouth and snout protrudes more forward than other sunfish. The body coloration is light olive-green to gold, with red and orange flecks in the breast. The breast of a mature redear is typically yellow, and the pectoral fins are long and pointed.
Channel Catfish channelcat Channel catfish have a deeply forked tail, a rounded anal fin with 24-29 fin rays, and juvelines have scattered black spots along their back and sides. They have a small, narrow head, and the back is blue-gray with light blue to silvery gray sides and a white belly. Males may become very dark during the spawning season and develop a thickened pad on their head.
Hybrid Striped Bass hybridstripedbass The hybrid striped bass is a cross between striped bass and white bass. Body coloration is often olive-green to blue-gray on the back with silvery to brassy sides and white on the belly. It is easily recognized by the 7-8 prominent black stripes on the sides that are often broken. Hybrid striped bass can not reproduce in ponds and therefore must be restocked periodically if desired.

Othe Species

Species Photo Description
Black Crappie blackcrappie The black crappie is a silvery-green to yellowish fish with large dorsal and anal fins of almost identical shape and size. The sides are marked with black blotches which become more intense towards the back. The dorsal, anal, and caudal fins are also marked with rows of dark spots. Crappie have compressed bodies, small heads and arched backs. They have a large mouth with an upper jaw extending under the eye. Black crappie can be distinguished from white crappie, a similar species, by the number of dorsal spines. Black crappie have 7-8 dorsal spines, while white crappie have 5-6 spines and usually exhibit vertical bars on the sides of the body.
Warmouth warmouth Warmouth have a stout, deep body similar to that of a bluegill or redear sunfish, yet have a large, bass-like mouth. They have a red eye and vary from brassy to dark-olive green and often have a purple tint overall. Broad, irregular dark bars give it a mottled appearance. The soft-rayed portions of the dorsal and anal fins are marked with rows of dark spots. Three or four conspicuous dark stripes radiate back from the eye across to the cheek and gill cover.
Redbreast Sunfish redbreast The redbreast sunfish is one of the brightest colored sunfish. The most distinguishing characteristic of this species is a long, narrow (no wider than the eye) extension of the gill cover. These flaps may reach a length of one inch, and are entirely black. Male redbreast sunfish have a yellow, orange, or bright red breast, olive upper sides, blending into blue-tinged bronze on the lower sides and blue streaks on the cheek.
Brown bullhead brownbulllhead Bullhead species can easily be differentiated from channel catfish by the absence of a deeply-forked tail. The body is squat and the tail is round or square. The chin barbels on brown bullheads are pigmented, not whitish as with yellow bullheads. The sides of brown bullheads have a distinct, irregular brownish mottling over a light background. The belly is creamy white. They have square tails and 20 to 24 anal ray fins.
Yellow bullhead yellowbullhead Similar to the brown bullhead, the yellow bullhead has a squat body and a round or square tail. It is yellow-olive to slate-black above and lighter, often yellow to yellow-olive, on its sides with little to no mottling. The belly may be white, cream or yellow. The chin barbels are yellow to buff or pale pink; the upper barbels, which are light to dark-brown, help distinguish this species from brown bullheads. The anal fin has a straight margin with 23 to 27 rays.
Common Carp commoncarp The common carp is a heavy bodied, laterally compressed minnow with a long dorsal fin and arched back. The first ray of the dorsal and anal fins is a stout, serrated spine. The small triangular head is scaleless and tapers to a blunt snout. The small, protrusible mouth contains no teeth and is located below the snout. There are two pair of barbels on the upper jaw. The body is scaled and color is brassy green on top grading to bronze or gold on sides. The belly is yellowish white. Fins typically are yellow, orange, golden, or light olive in color.
Grass Carp grasscarp Grass carp are slender bodied with a large very broad head and a wide mouth. Unlike common carp, the dorsal fin is short. Coloration is dark greenish-brown on the back and the sides are pale golden. This species is commonly introduced to control vegetation problems.
Golden Shiner goldenshiner Young golden shiners are silvery with a dusky band along the side. This band fades with age as the fish takes on a golden color. Adults are usually less than 6 inches, although can grow to about 10 inches. Golden shiners are usually introduced by anglers when they empty their bait buckets into the pond.
Mosquitofish mosquitofish Mosquitofish are are dull grey or brown in color with a rounded tail. Their mouths point upward for surface feeding. Mosquitofish can persist in ponds with sufficient shallow vegetated areas where they can hide from predators.