Fish Species in Michigan and the Great Lakes

More than 160 species of freshwater fish inhabit the waters of the Great Lakes.

Learn More About Freshwater Fish:

  • What fish species can you identify? You may be most familiar with fish in the sunfish and bass family, cold-water species in the salmon and trout family, or some of the 62 species that make up the minnow family.
  • Ancient fish, such as Lake Sturgeon and Longnose Gar also inhabit waters of the Great Lakes region. These fish have unique attributes that have allowed them to survive for millions of years.
  • Each family of fishes in the Great Lakes region has physical traits that set it apart from others, called distinguishing characteristics.
  • Try using a dichotomous key, a classification tool used to identify fish. Michigan Sea Grant education specialists developed a Fish ID Lesson (Fins, Tails and Scales) that includes a simplified dichotomous key, colorful fish cards and instructions on how to identify fish families. See how well you know your families and species.
  • To learn more about telling fish species apart, visit the Fish Identification Lesson to learn how to identify them and why it is important.