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Similarities And Differences Among New York's Larger Unusual Fish

Similiarities and differences among New York's larger unusual fish species
Species Description Habitat Reproduction Feeding Comments/ Fishing Information
Carp 15-20" long (up to 30")

Up to 41 lbs.

Olive green on back; yellow or gold on belly; fins have deep red tint

Sharp spine of dorsal & anal fins

Short barbels around mouth

Body generally covered with large, heavy scales (see comments)
Found throughout the state except in cold trout streams & lakes

Prefer slow moving water with soft bottom
Spawns in late spring/early summer

Eggs are broadcast in weedy or grassy shallows. Their bodies are sometimes exposed out of the water and the splashing they do makes quite a commotion

A 20 lb. female will lay nearly 10 million eggs
Adults eat a variety of plant and animal material

Sometimes create quite a cloud of mud when they feed
Originally from Asia; brought here to provide a food fish. Introduced into NY in 1831 near Newburgh

Carp taken from clean waters are excellent to eat

State angling record is a 41 lb. 2 oz. fish taken from Tomhannock Reservoir

Use of carp as bait is prohibited in NY waters

Mirror carp have only a few enlarged scales and leather carp have no scales
Goldfish 12-14" long

Generally olive green also red or orange, black and white

Sharp spine on dorsal & anal fins

No barbels around mouth

Body covered with large, heavy scales

Can have double & triple fan tails and long, flowing fins
Smaller ponds and lakes

Mainly in warm, weedy shallows such as black water areas of streams and lakes
Spawns in early summer (May-June)

Eggs are broadcast over vegetation in shallow, weedy water
Opportunity feeders

Eats a wide variety of aquatic insects, small clams, snails, worms and other vegetation
Native of China

Similar in appearance to carp

Largely thought of as a pet. NY's goldfish populations are results of released pets or escapees from bait buckets

Use of goldfish as bait is prohibited in New York's waters
Quillback 10-15" long (up to 20")

Silvery tan in color

No sharp spine on dorsal & anal fins

No barbels around mouth

Body covered with large scales

Long, soft ray on front of dorsal fin
Large rivers & lakes Spawns in spring (April-May)

Broadcasts eggs over sand and mud bottoms
Eats insects and invertebrates Closely resembles carp in looks

Limited distribution in NY. Found in lakes Erie, Ontario and Champlain & the Susquehanna and Allegheny rivers

Occasionally caught by anglers using doughballs, but few fishermen actively seek quillback
Grass Carp (Triploid) 18-25" long

Color ranges from dark gray to golden brown on back & white on belly

No sharp spine on dorsal and anal fins

No barbels around mouth

Body covered with large scales
Can live in a wide variety of habitats including lakes, ponds and streams

Prefers large rivers
Triploid adults are sterile - no reproduction A vegetation - eats a variety of submergent aquatic vegetation Native to rivers of eastern China and the Soviet Union

Similar in appearance to a large creek chub

Reaches weights of 25 plus lbs. in NY waters and 100 lbs. in native waters

Used as a biological form of aquatic weed control. In NY - possession of grass carp is prohibited except by permit from DEC
Suckers 6-20" long

Generally large, fleshy lips

Most species have underslung mouths

Similar to appearance to large minnows

Some species vary in appearance depending on habitat
Found in just about every water across the state Spawns in spring

Migrate upstream & spawn in groups in shallow, swift water

Some species make large spawning runs

Males develop prominent spawning tubercles on head and fins
Omnivorous - eats both plant and animal material Numerous species of suckers inhabit NY's waters including: longnose suckers, white suckers, hogsuckers and redhorses

Suckers are fun to catch and excellent eating when taken from cold stream waters during the spring
Longnose Gar 28-36" long

Arrow-shaped body

Long, narrow, well-toothed snouts

Olive brown to gray with light colored belly
Lakes and slack water areas of large streams

Usually associated with weeds and/or other structures such as sunken trees
Spawns in spring/early summer

Spawns in groups. Eggs are scattered over vegetation

In some areas gar migrate upstream to spawn
Carnivorous-mostly eats fish with some crayfish & insects Sometimes called "living fossils" - been around for 100 million years

Can survive in water with low oxygen. Unusual swim bladder enables them to breathe oxygen from the air

Found in the St. Lawrence River, Niagara river, Lake Champlain, Eastern Lake Ontario & the larger tributaries to these waters

Only a few anglers fish for gar. Gar eggs are extremely toxic to humans, but their flesh is edible
Bowfin 18-24" long

Up to 11 lbs.

Massive round head with heavy plates on cheeks

Large mouth loaded with pointed teeth

Rounded tail; long, wavy dorsal fin

Dark olive color with oval black spot at base of tail
A big water fish found in swampy, vegetated bays of warm water lakes and rivers Spawns in early summer (May-June)

Males build nests by biting & tearing out leaves & stems of rooted vegetation

Males stay & guard eggs & young for up to several weeks
Eats anything edible it can get its huge mouth around including fish, insects and crayfish Another of NY's living dinosaurs - been here for last 60 million years

Limited range in NY: Lake Champlain, the St. Lawrence River & a few Central NY large waters

Have modified swim bladder-enables them to gulp air at surface

Put up a good fight when hooked, though few anglers fish for them
Burbot 12-20" long (up to 36")

Elongated body

Single, prominent chin barbel

Long dorsal & anal fins

Deeply embedded, tiny scales

Color usually yellow-brown with darker pattern overlaid
Usually found in lakes, but will live in streams with cool water and adequate hiding places Spawns in mid-winter (Dec-March)

Spawns in groups

Scatters eggs over sand and gravel shoals

Females lay up to one million eggs
Eats primarily fish, with some invertebrates Looks like a cross between a bullhead and an eel

Only New York freshwater fish that spawns in winter

Sporadic distribution. Found in lakes Erie & Ontario, the St. Lawrence river, some larger inland lakes & the Susquehanna drainage

Frequently caught by anglers-especially when ice-fishing at dusk & dawn

Few people eat burbot
Freshwater Drum 18-20" long

Heavy-bodied with blunt head and humpback appearance

Numerous small, rounded crushing teeth

Prominent spine on anal fin

Overall silver color shading from white belly to dark olive green back
Big water fish found in large rivers and lakes

Prefers clear water, but tolerant of turbid conditions
Long spawning season: summer/early fall (July - Sept)

Spawning has never been observed in the wild

The only North American fish that produces a planktonic egg that floats and drifts with the current
Uses its small, rounded teeth for crushing & eating freshwater snails and clams

Will eat zebra mussels
Also called sheepshead

Uses muscles around swim bladder to produce drumming sound-hence its name

Common in lakes Erie, Ontario, Champlain and Oneida

Commercially harvested on small basis in Great Lakes. Puts up good fight when caught on hook and line

Have large otolith-ear bone. This round, smooth bone -- called a "Lucky Stone"-- is often picked up on the beach. It has a grove on one side that forms an "L" for luck
American Eel 24-40" long

Long slender, snakelike body

Dorsal & anal fins connected to tail (looks like one long, wraparound fin)

Small, deeply embedded scales
Variety of habitats ranging from ocean to the headwaters of streams

Spends most of time buried in gravel & mud or hiding under rocks
Only freshwater fish that is catadomous; migrates out to sea to spawn

Spawning adults and eggs have never been found. It is assumed adults die after spawning

Have a true larval stage; transparent ribbonlike creatures that drift with the current
A voracious feeder-prefers live food including insects, crustaceans & fish Found in the Hudson-Mohawk River drainage, the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes and tributaries to these waters

Commercially important species in New York; however, many of the prime fishing areas have been closed due to high PCB levels

Eels go through several life stages: larvae turn into glass eels when they reach 2 1/2" long. Glass eels become colored when they near costal rivers & are called elvers. Elvers travel upstream. Eels spend up to ten years in freshwater before returning to sea to spawn.

Females travel upstream, males remain near the ocean