Identification of North Carolina Freshwater Fishes

The first general description of North Carolina’s fish fauna was written by Thomas Ash in 1682. Our first state-specific checklist was provided by John Lawson in 1709 which was received in such high regard that it was later plagiarized extensively by John Brickell in 1737. Since becoming an official state of the Union in 1789, checklists and “Fishes of”-type of publications have appeared regularly beginning with Edward Drinker Cope in 1870 and continuing through 1991 with Edward F. Menhinick’s “The Freshwater Fishes of North Carolina”. Although the distributional maps and some of the taxonomic nomenclature are now out-of-date, the book is still widely used because of its dichotomous keys and illustrations.  Until the next “Fishes of-” type of book is written, our webpage, ( and “An Annotated Atlas of the Freshwater Fishes of North Carolina”, a manuscript currently being revised by Bryn H. Tracy, Fred C. Rohde, and Gabriela M. Hogue, and “Suggested References for the Identification of North Carolina Freshwater Fishes” will fill this educational void for those seeking more information on North Carolina’s diverse and colorful freshwater fish fauna.

Moxostoma sp. “Carolina” Redhorse, Little River at Capelsie, NC, May 11, 2005.

Leave a Comment