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Salmons: Salmoniformes

Brook Trout (salvelinus Fontinalis): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Brook trout are 7 to 10 inches (18 to 25 centimeters) long and weigh less than 1 pound (0.45 kilogram), although the record is 14.5 pounds (6.6 kilograms), 31 inches (78.4 centimeters). These trout have a combination of dark green marbling on the back and dorsal fin and red spots with blue halos on the sides. While migrating, brook trout are dark green on the back, silvery on the sides, and white with pink spots on the belly.

Geographic range: Brook trout live in North America in eastern Canada, the Great Lakes region south to northern Georgia, and in isolated areas in western Canada and the western United States.

Habitat: Brook trout live in clear, cool creeks, in small to medium-sized rivers, and in lakes.

These brook trout are in their vibrant autumn spawning colors. Note the tail of the male, lower left, showing a bite mark received during one of the many battles between males for the right to court a female. (AP/Wide World Photos. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Brook trout eat worms, leeches, crustaceans, insects, mollusks, fishes, amphibians (am-FIB-ee-uns) like frogs, and even small mammals and plant matter.

Behavior and reproduction: Brook trout migrate upstream in early spring, summer, and late fall and migrate downstream in late spring and fall. A male brook trout courts females by attempting to drive them toward a suitable gravel site. If a female accepts the male, she digs the nest, then covers the eggs with small pebbles. She then moves to the upstream end of the nest and begins digging a new nest. Once the female has released all her eggs, all males release their sperm, the greatest number of eggs being fertilized by the first male that enters the nest.

Brook trout and people: Brook trout are commercially farmed. Fishermen regard these trout highly because of their fight when hooked.

Conservation status: Brook trout are not threatened or endangered. ∎



Gilbert, Carter Rowell, and James D. Williams. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes: North America. New York: Knopf, 2002.

Montgomery, David R. King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2003.

Schultz, Ken. Ken Schultz's Field Guide to Freshwater Fish. New York: Wiley, 2004.

Web sites:

"Fish Facts: Atlantic Salmon." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. http://www.fws.gov/r5crc/fish/za_sasa.html (accessed on September 27, 2004).

"Salmon." All Science Fair Projects. http://www.all-science-fair-projects.com/science_fair_projects_encyclopedia/Salmon (accessed on September 27, 2004).

"Salmon FAQs." Northeast Fisheries Science Center. http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/faq/fishfaq2c.html#q19 (accesssed on September 27, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesSalmons: Salmoniformes - Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Chinook Salmon (oncorhynchus Tshawytscha): Species Accounts, Atlantic Salmon (salmo Salar): Species Accounts - PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, SALMONS AND