Freshwater Fishes of North Carolina

Our checklist of the freshwater fishes of North Carolina follows Tracy, B. H., F.C. Rohde, and G. M. Hogue. (in review). An annotated atlas of the freshwater fishes of North Carolina. Our checklist includes some fishes traditionally considered marine, but that do spend a portion of their lives in freshwater environments. Because of this, you will see some duplication with the marine fishes checklist. Developing this page is taking quite a bit of time, and will be updated daily as we get all of the links built. In the near future, the species pages will be updated with range maps and identification information. If you are looking for an image of a fish that we haven’t posted yet, please contact us.

Phylogenetic order and family, scientific, and common names follow the California Academy of Sciences’ Catalog of Fishes Online Database (; Fricke et al. 2020) and Page et al. (2013). All native minnows, shiners, and chubs, formerly assigned to family Cyprinidae, have been reassigned to family Leuciscidae, a former subfamily of cyprinid fishes (Tan and Armbruster 2018). In addition, the nonindigenous Grass Carp, Ctenopharyngodon idella, has been reclassified in family Xenocyprididae (Tan and Armbruster 2018). For undescribed species, vernacular names are used strictly for convenience and may or may not be the accepted common name once the species is scientifically described (Tracy et al. in prep.).

Photographic Library

If you prefer to browse through our photographic gallery of the freshwater fishes of North Carolina, please follow this link.

Pertinent Identification References and Literature Cited:

Etnier, D.A., and W.C. Starnes. 1993. The fishes of Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN. 681p. (Available at:

Fricke, R., W.N. Eschmeyer, and R. Van der Laan. (eds). 2020. Eschmeyer’s catalog of fishes: genera, species, references. ( Electronic version accessed 2019-2020.

Jenkins, R.E., and N.M. Burkhead. 1994. Freshwater fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society. Bethesda, MD. 1080p.

Menhinick, E.F. 1991. The freshwater fishes of North Carolina. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Raleigh, NC. 227p.

Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr. 2011. Peterson field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Second edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY. 663p.

Page, L.M., H. Espinosa-Pérez, L.T. Findley, C.R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, N.E. Mandrak, R.L. Mayden, and J.S. Nelson. 2013. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. 7th edition. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD. 384p. (Available at:

Rohde, F.C., R.G. Arndt, J.W. Foltz, and J.M. Quattro. 2009. Freshwater fishes of South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, SC. 430p.

Rohde, F.C., R.G. Arndt, D.G. Lindquist, and J.F. Parnell. 1994. Freshwater fishes of the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. University of North Carolina Press. Chapel Hill, NC. 222p.

Tan, M., and J.W. Armbruster. 2018. Phylogenetic classification of extant genera of fishes of the order Cypriniformes (Teleostei: Ostariophysi). Zootaxa 4476:6–39.


Petromyzontidae – Lampreys

Ichthyomyzon bdellium — Ohio Lamprey
Ichthyomyzon greeleyi — Mountain Brook Lamprey
Lampetra aepyptera — Least Brook Lamprey
Lethenteron appendix — American Brook Lamprey
Petromyzon marinus — Sea Lamprey

Polyodontidae – Paddlefishes

Polyodon spathula — Paddlefish

Acipenseridae – Sturgeons

Acipenser brevirostrum — Shortnose Sturgeon
Acipenser oxyrinchus — Atlantic Sturgeon
Acipenser fulvescens — Lake Sturgeon

Lepisosteidae – Gars

Lepisosteus osseus — Longnose Gar

Amiidae – Bowfins

Amia calva — Bowfin

Hiodontidae – Mooneyes

Hiodon tergisus — Mooneye

Anguillidae – Freshwater Eels

Anguilla rostrata — American Eel

Engraulidae – Anchovies

Anchoa mitchilli — Bay Anchovy

Clupeidae – Herrings

Alosa aestivalis — Blueback Herring
Alosa mediocris — Hickory Shad
Alosa pseudoharengus — Alewife
Alosa sapidissima — American Shad
Brevoortia tyrannus — Atlantic Menhaden
Dorosoma cepedianum — Gizzard Shad
Dorosoma petenense — Threadfin Shad

Xenocyprididae – East Asian Minnows

Ctenopharyngodon idella — Grass Carp

Cyprinidae – Carps

Carassius auratus — Goldfish
Cyprinus carpio — Common Carp

Leuciscidae – Minnows

Campostoma anomalum — Central Stoneroller
Chrosomus oreas — Mountain Redbelly Dace
Clinostomus funduloides — Rosyside Dace
Clinostomus sp. Smoky Dace — “Smoky” Dace
Clinostomus sp. Hiwassee Dace — “Hiwassee” Dace
Cyprinella analostana — Satinfin Shiner
Cyprinella chloristia — Greenfin Shiner
Cyprinella galactura — Whitetail Shiner
Cyprinella labrosa — Thicklip Chub
Cyprinella lutrensis — Red Shiner
Cyprinella monacha — Spotfin Chub
Cyprinella nivea — Whitefin Shiner
Cyprinella pyrrhomelas — Fieryblack Shiner
Cyprinella spiloptera — Spotfin Shiner
Cyprinella zanema — Santee Chub
Cyprinella sp. Thinlip Chub — “Thinlip” Chub
Erimystax insignis — Blotched Chub
Exoglossum laurae — Tonguetied Minnow
Exoglossum maxillingua — Cutlip Minnow
Hybognathus regius — Eastern Silvery Minnow
Hybopsis amblops — Bigeye Chub
Hybopsis hypsinotus — Highback Chub
Hybopsis rubrifrons — Rosyface Chub
Luxilus albeolus — White Shiner
Luxilus cerasinus — Crescent Shiner
Luxilus chrysocephalus — Striped Shiner
Luxilus coccogenis — Warpaint Shiner
Lythrurus ardens — Rosefin Shiner
Lythrurus matutinus — Pinewoods Shiner
Nocomis leptocephalus — Bluehead Chub
Nocomis micropogon — River Chub
Nocomis platyrhynchus — Bigmouth Chub
Nocomis raneyi — Bull Chub
Notemigonus crysoleucas — Golden Shiner
Notropis alborus — Whitemouth Shiner
Notropis altipinnis — Highfin Shiner
Notropis amoenus — Comely Shiner
Notropis bifrenatus — Bridle Shiner
Notropis chalybaeus — Ironcolor Shiner
Notropis chiliticus — Redlip Shiner
Notropis chlorocephalus — Greenhead Shiner
Notropis cummingsae — Dusky Shiner
Notropis hudsonius — Spottail Shiner
Notropis leuciodus — Tennessee Shiner
Notropis lutipinnis — Yellowfin Shiner
Notropis maculatus — Taillight Shiner
Notropis mekistocholas — Cape Fear Shiner
Notropis micropteryx — Highland Shiner
Notropis petersoni — Coastal Shiner
Notropis photogenis — Silver Shiner
Notropis procne — Swallowtail Shiner
Notropis rubricroceus — Saffron Shiner
Notropis scabriceps — New River Shiner
Notropis scepticus — Sandbar Shiner
Notropis spectrunculus — Mirror Shiner
Notropis telescopus — Telescope Shiner
Notropis volucellus — Mimic Shiner
Notropis sp. Piedmont Shiner — “Piedmont” Shiner
Notropis sp. Kanawha Rosyface Shiner — “Kanawha” Rosyface Shiner
Phenacobius crassilabrum — Fatlips Minnow
Phenacobius teretulus — Kanawha Minnow
Pimephales notatus — Bluntnose Minnow
Pimephales promelas — Fathead Minnow
Rhinichthys atratulus — Eastern Blacknose Dace
Rhinichthys cataractae — Longnose Dace
Rhinichthys obtusus — Western Blacknose Dace
Semotilus atromaculatus — Creek Chub
Semotilus lumbee — Sandhills Chub

Catostomidae – Suckers

Carpiodes carpio — River Carpsucker
Carpiodes cyprinus — Quillback
Carpiodes sp. Carolina Quillback — “Carolina” Quillback
Carpiodes sp. Atlantic Highfin Carpsucker — “Atlantic” Highfin Carpsucker
Catostomus commersonii — White Sucker
Erimyzon oblongus — Creek Chubsucker
Erimyzon sucetta — Lake Chubsucker
Hypentelium nigricans — Northern Hog Sucker
Hypentelium roanokense — Roanoke Hog Sucker
Ictiobus bubalus — Smallmouth Buffalo
Ictiobus cyprinellus — Bigmouth Buffalo
Ictiobus niger — Black Buffalo
Minytrema melanops — Spotted Sucker
Moxostoma anisurum — Silver Redhorse
Moxostoma ariommum — Bigeye Jumprock
Moxostoma breviceps — Smallmouth Redhorse
Moxostoma carinatum — River Redhorse
Moxostoma cervinum — Blacktip Jumprock
Moxostoma collapsum — Notchlip Redhorse
Moxostoma duquesnei — Black Redhorse
Moxostoma erythrurum — Golden Redhorse
Moxostoma macrolepidotum — Shorthead Redhorse
Moxostoma pappillosum — V-lip Redhorse
Moxostoma robustum — Robust Redhorse
Moxostoma rupiscartes — Striped Jumprock
Moxostoma sp. Brassy Jumprock — “Brassy” Jumprock
Moxostoma sp. Carolina Redhorse — “Carolina” Redhorse
Moxostoma sp. Sicklefin Redhorse — “Sicklefin” Redhorse
Thoburnia hamiltoni — Rustyside Sucker

Cobitidae – Loaches

Misgurnus anguillicaudatus — Oriental Weatherfish

Ictaluridae – North American Catfishes

Ameiurus brunneus — Snail Bullhead
Ameiurus catus — White Catfish
Ameiurus melas — Black Bullhead
Ameiurus natalis — Yellow Bullhead
Ameiurus nebulosus — Brown Bullhead
Ameiurus platycephalus — Flat Bullhead
Ictalurus furcatus — Blue Catfish
Ictalurus punctatus — Channel Catfish
Noturus eleutherus — Mountain Madtom
Noturus flavus — Stonecat
Noturus furiosus — Carolina Madtom
Noturus gilberti — Orangefin Madtom
Noturus gyrinus — Tadpole Madtom
Noturus insignis — Margined Madtom
Noturus sp. Lake Waccamaw — “Lake Waccamaw Broadtail” Madtom
Noturus sp. Pee Dee River — “Pee Dee Broadtail” Madtom
Noturus sp. Cape Fear River — “Cape Fear Broadtail” Madtom
Pylodictis olivaris — Flathead Catfish

Loricariidae – Suckermouth Armored Catfishes

Pterygoplichthys pardalis — Amazon Sailfin Catfish

Esocidae – Pikes

Esox americanus — Redfin Pickerel
Esox masquinongy — Muskellunge
Esox niger — Chain Pickerel

Umbridae – Mudminnows

Umbra pygmaea — Eastern Mudminnow

Salmonidae – Trouts and Salmons

Oncorhynchus mykiss — Rainbow Trout
Oncorhynchus nerka — Sockeye Salmon
Salmo trutta — Brown Trout
Salvelinus fontinalis — Brook Trout

Aphredoderidae – Pirate Perches

Aphredoderus sayanus — Pirate Perch

Amblyopsidae – Cavefishes

Chologaster cornuta — Swampfish

Mugilidae – Mullets

Dajaus monticola — Mountain Mullet
Mugil cephalus — Striped Mullet

Atherinopsidae – New World Silversides

Labidesthes sicculus — Brook Silverside
Labidesthes vanhyningi — Southern Brook Silverside
Menidia beryllina — Inland Silverside
Menidia extensa — Waccamaw Silverside

Belonidae – Needlefishes

Strongylura marina — Atlantic Needlefish

Fundulidae – Topminnows

Fundulus chrysotus — Golden Topminnow
Fundulus confluentus — Marsh Killifish
Fundulus diaphanus — Banded Killifish
Fundulus heteroclitus — Mummichog
Fundulus lineolatus — Lined Topminnow
Fundulus rathbuni — Speckled Killifish
Fundulus waccamensis — Waccamaw Killifish
Fundulus sp. Lake Phelps Killifish — “Lake Phelps” Killifish
Lucania goodei — Bluefin Killifish
Lucania parva — Rainwater Killifish

Poeciliidae – Livebearers

Gambusia affinis — Western Mosquitofish
Gambusia holbrooki — Eastern Mosquitofish
Heterandria formosa — Least Killifish
Poecilia latipinna — Sailfin Molly

Cyprinodontidae – Pupfishes

Cyprinodon variegatus — Sheepshead Minnow

Gasterosteidae – Sticklebacks

Apeltes quadracus — Fourspine Stickelback

Cottidae – Sculpins

Cottus bairdii — Mottled Sculpin
Cottus caeruleomentum — Blue Ridge Sculpin
Cottus carolinae — Banded Sculpin

Moronidae – Temperate Basses

Morone americana — White Perch
Morone chrysops — White Bass
Morone saxatilis — Striped Bass

Centrarchidae – Sunfishes

Acantharchus pomotis — Mud Sunfish
Ambloplites cavifrons — Roanoke Bass
Ambloplites rupestris — Rock Bass
Centrarchus macropterus — Flier
Enneacanthus chaetodon — Blackbanded Sunfish
Enneacanthus gloriosus — Bluespotted Sunfish
Enneacanthus obesus — Banded Sunfish
Lepomis auritus — Redbreast Sunfish
Lepomis cyanellus — Green Sunfish
Lepomis gibbosus — Pumpkinseed
Lepomis gulosus — Warmouth
Lepomis macrochirus — Bluegill
Lepomis marginatus — Dollar Sunfish
Lepomis microlophus — Redear Sunfish
Lepomis punctatus — Spotted Sunfish
Micropterus coosae — Redeye Bass
Micropterus dolomieu — Smallmouth Bass
Micropterus henshalli — Alabama Bass
Micropterus punctulatus — Spotted Bass
Micropterus salmoides — Largemouth Bass
Micropterus sp. Bartram’s Bass — “Bartram’s” Bass
Pomoxis annularis — White Crappie
Pomoxis nigromaculatus — Black Crappie

Percidae – Perches

Etheostoma acuticeps — Sharphead Darter
Etheostoma blennioides — Greenside Darter
Etheostoma brevispinum — Carolina Fantail Darter
Etheostoma chlorobranchium — Greenfin Darter
Etheostoma collis — Carolina Darter
Etheostoma flabellare — Fantail Darter
Etheostoma fusiforme — Swamp Dater
Etheostoma gutselli — Tuckasegee Darter
Etheostoma inscriptum — Turquoise Darter
Etheostoma jessiae — Blueside Darter
Etheostoma kanawhae — Kanawha Darter
Etheostoma mariae — Pinewoods Darter
Etheostoma nigrum — Johnny Darter
Etheostoma olmstedi — Tessellated Darter
Etheostoma perlongum — Waccamaw Darter
Etheostoma podostemone — Riverweed Darter
Etheostoma rufilineatum — Redline Darter
Etheostoma serrifer — Sawcheek Darter
Etheostoma simoterum — Tennessee Snubnose Darter
Etheostoma swannanoa — Swannanoa Darter
Etheostoma thalassinum — Seagreen Darter
Etheostoma vitreum — Glassy Darter
Etheostoma vulneratum — Wounded Darter
Etheostoma zonale — Banded Darter
Perca flavescens — Yellow Perch
Percina aurantiaca — Tangerine Darter
Percina burtoni — Blotchside Logperch
Percina caprodes — Logperch
Percina crassa — Piedmont Darter
Percina evides — Gilt Darter
Percina gymnocephala — Appalachia Darter
Percina nevisense — Chainback Darter
Percina oxyrhynchus — Sharpnose Darter
Percina rex — Roanoke Logperch
Percina roanoka — Roanoke Darter
Percina squamata– Olive Darter
Percina westfalli — Westfall’s Darter
Percina williamsi — Sickle Darter
Sander canadensis — Sauger
Sander vitreus — Walleye

Sciaenidae – Drums and Croakers

Aplodinotus grunniens — Freshwater Drum
Leiostomus xanthurus — Spot

Elassomatidae – Pygmy Sunfishes

Elassoma boehlkei — Carolina Pygmy Sunfish
Elassoma evergladei — Everglades Pygmy Sunfish
Elassoma zonatum — Banded Pygmy Sunfish

Cichlidae – Cichlids

Coptodon zillii — Redbelly Tilapia
Oreochromis aureus — Blue Tilapia

Eleotridae – Sleepers

Dormitator maculatus — Fat Sleeper
Eleotris amblyopsis — Largescaled Spinycheek Sleeper

Gobiidae – Gobies

Awaous banana — River Goby
Ctenogobius shufeldti — Freshwater Goby
Evorthodus lyricus — Lyre Goby

Paralichthyidae – Sand Flounders

Paralichthys lethostigma — Southern Flounder

Archiridae – American Soles

Trinectes maculatus — Hogchoker

For more information on the freshwater fishes of North Carolina, please see the ichthyology collection at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences:

Freshwater fishes of North Carolina

4 thoughts on “Freshwater Fishes of North Carolina”

  1. I own a copy of
    “Fred C. Rohde, Rudolf G. Arndt, Jeffrey W. Foltz, and Joseph M. Quattro Photographs by Fred C. Rohde With a History of Ichthyology in South Carolina by William D. Anderson, Jr.” A scientific milestone, this comprehensive illustrated guide to the characteristics, distribution, and ecology of freshwater fishes in South Carolina marks the first endeavor since 1860 to document this aspect of the Palmetto State’s diverse natural history.

  2. I dabble in salt water fish ID and photography with the stri my guide. I am going to be mainly diving Fresh water for a while. And was bemoaning the lack of an equivalent and stumbled on Perfect my prayers are answered. Very nice.


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