The Fish of Lake Superior




The results of last week’s Cast YOUR Vote are in. Students have chosen that we should research the fish and animals of Lake Superior. There are 34 native fish species and a total of 88 fish species in this massive lake. “Native species” means a plant or animal that lives in the same place it is originally from, kind of like if you are still living in the same town you were born in.  There are many animals that live in and around the lake as well. There are so many fish and animals that I can’t tell you about all of them in this entry. I’ll share what I know about Lake Superior fish now. Next week, I’ll tell you about other animals that can be found in and around Lake Superior. You can use the links at the bottom of the page to learn more about the fish found in Lake Superior.

I have chosen four Lake Superior fish to tell you about: lake whitefish, sea lamprey, lake trout and lake sturgeon. This is just a small sample of fish in the lake, so I hope you will research even more fish that live here.

Lake Whitefish

People have been netting (and eating) whitefish for a long time. They are a fish that like to eat food from the bottom of the lake. They have small heads and are silver in color. A whitefish can grow to weigh as much as 20 pounds. They like to eat insects, freshwater shrimp, small fish and fish eggs. Over a million pounds of whitefish are harvested from Lake Superior each year.

Lake whitefish. Image source:
Lake whitefish. Image source 

Sea Lamprey

Sea lampreys are not native to Lake Superior. They are an invasive species. An “invasive species” is a plant or animal that has been introduced to an environment and become a nuisance. Sea lampreys came from the Atlantic Ocean, through the St. Lawrence Seaway. The sea lamprey is a parasite. It grows to be about 8-12 ounces. It is a grayish-black fish that is long and skinny. It has a round mouth that looks like a suction cup, with many rows of teeth. Sea lampreys are kind of like vampires. They latch onto other fish and suck their blood. You can learn more about the sea lamprey here, in the Wilderness Library.

Sea Lamprey
Several lampreys attached to a Lake Trout. U.S. Geological Survey Image Source


Lake Trout

Lake trout are at the top of the food chain in Lake Superior. They live in deep parts of Lake Superior. They typically grow to be 7-12 pounds, but the biggest lake trout caught in Lake Superior was 63 pounds. Lake trout like to eat freshwater shrimp, other crustaceans, midsize fish and insects. Overfishing and an invasion of sea lamprey in the 1950s caused the lake trout population to drop.

Lake Trout. Image source
Lake Trout. Image source

Lake Sturgeon

Lake sturgeon are the largest fish in Lake Superior. They among the oldest fish in the lake too. Did you know that a lake sturgeon can live to be older than 100 years? This species of fish has also been around for a long time—about 150 million years. Lake sturgeon can grow to be 8 feet long and weigh over 300 pounds. They have tough skin with hard plates running along each side of their body. They have whisker-like barbels that help them search for food. They like to eat small things like crayfish, leeches, small fish and insects.

Lake sturgeon. Image source
Lake sturgeon. Image source: Shedd Aquarium

I hope you enjoyed learning about some of the fish found in Lake Superior.  Follow the links below to learn about more fish that live in the lake. What is your favorite fish? Do any of the fish found in Lake Superior live in a lake near you? Are there different fish near where you live? Are there any invasive species (like the sea lamprey) in the lakes and rivers near you?


Keep Exploring!




Fish in Lake Superior:

Lake Superior habitat:

Lake Superior food web:

1 thought on “The Fish of Lake Superior”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.