Minnesota is famous for its waters. Not only does the state have nearly 12,000 lakes, it also has more than 92,000 miles of rivers and streams. All this water is home to many different species or types of fish—161 to be exact.
One reason there are so many fish species in Minnesota is because this water offers many different kinds of habitat, or places to live. Many lakes in central and northern Minnesota provide the right conditions for sunfish, bass, and northern pike. But many of those waters are too warm for trout, which thrive in the cold streams of southeastern and northeastern Minnesota and in deep, clear lakes such as Lake Superior.
The state's big rivers, including the Mississippi, Minnesota, and St. Croix, are home to many of the fish that make the fish pond at the Minnesota State Fair such a popular attraction. The paddlefish, with its long, spoon-shaped bill, is easy to identify and hard to mistake for anything else. But identifying some of Minnesota's other fish species is not as easy.
Knowing where different fish species are found is one part of the fish identification puzzle. Size can provide another clue. But the real fun of fish identification is learning where to look to find the details that distinguish one species from another. Let's look closely at 14 popular fish to find the details that make each species different.