Species at risk by type

A list of species at risk for the selected Ontario region.

Fish and Mussels

  • eastern-sand-darter

    Eastern Sand Darter (Ammocrypta pellucida)

    Status: endangered

    During the breeding season, the normally drab-looking, male Eastern Sand Darters become flushed with yellowish colouration and can develop metallic blue and green colours on their cheeks.

  • american-eel

    American Eel (Anguilla rostrata)

    Status: endangered

    These fish can absorb oxygen through their skin as well as their gills, allowing them to travel brie?y over wet grass or mud.

  • redside-dace

    Redside Dace (Clinostomus elongatus)

    Status: endangered

    Redside dace are the only fish in Canada with the ability to jump out of the water to eat.

  • shortnose-cisco

    Shortnose Cisco (Coregonus reighardi)

    Status: endangered

    The Shortnose Cisco, also called chub, was once commercially fished in the Great Lakes. In the late 1800s it was the main fish caught by Toronto fishing boats. By the 1930s this species was seldom caught and by the 1980s it had nearly disappeared.

  • northern-riffleshell

    Northern Riffleshell (Epioblasma torulosa rangiana)

    Status: endangered

    Northern Riffleshell may be the most imperiled mussel species we have in Ontario, as it is believed there are fewer than 15 locations where this species occurs globally.

  • snuffbox

    Snuffbox (Epioblasma triquetra)

    Status: endangered

    The Snuffbox's main host is the Logperch, which is known to frequently roll over small stones and gravel in search of food. The Snuffbox waits patiently for a Logperch to come along and touch its shell. The Snuffbox then captures the Logperch in its shell and holds the stunned fish long enough to puff out a cloud of mussel larvae that attach to the fish gills, where they live as parasites that consume nutrients from the fish body. The startled fish is then released.

  • spotted-gar

    Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus)

    Status: endangered

    The Spotted Gar can breathe air! It uses a special organ called a swim bladder like a lung when the fish comes to the surface for a breath of air. This allows the fish to live in areas with little oxygen in the water. Like most fishes, the Spotted Gar also uses gills to breath underwater.

  • warmouth

    Warmouth (Lepomis gulosus)

    Status: endangered

    The Warmouth feeds on small fishes, crayfishes and aquatic insects, and is likely to eat proportionally more fishes than most sunfishes.

  • eastern-pondmussel

    Eastern Pondmussel (Ligumia nasuta)

    Status: endangered

    To attract fish for its larvae to attach to, the female pondmussel produces a lure that looks like the wriggling legs of a swimming shrimp.

  • northern-madtom

    Northern Madtom (Noturus stigmosus)

    Status: endangered

    The sharp spines and poison glands found on the pectoral fins of the Northern Madtom can cause a painful wound!

  • hickorynut

    Hickorynut (Obovaria olivaria)

    Status: endangered

    Hickorynut shells were considered valuable for the pearl button industry in the early 20th century, and were harvested for these purposes in the United States.

  • round-hickorynut

    Round Hickorynut (Obovaria subrotunda)

    Status: endangered

    It is estimated that Round Hickorynut populations in Canada have declined by more than 90 per cent since the invasion of the Great Lakes by Zebra Mussels.

  • river-darter
  • round-pigtoe

    Round Pigtoe (Pleurobema sintoxia)

    Status: endangered

    Round Pigtoe eggs hatch inside a special pouch in the mother's gills called a marsupium, where the larvae are supported before being ejected into the water.

  • kidneyshell

    Kidneyshell (Ptychobranchus fasciolaris)

    Status: endangered

    Kidneyshell larvae are clustered into packages called conglutinates when released, and somewhat resemble fish fry complete with eye spots, or insect larvae. When a fooled fish bites down on one of these packages, the larvae burst out and attach to the fish gills where they live as parasites and consume nutrients from the fish until they transform into juvenile mussels and drop off.

  • salamander-mussel

    Salamander Mussel (Simpsonaias ambigua)

    Status: endangered

    The larvae of most freshwater mussels must attach to a fish host in order to survive. Once attached, the tiny parasitic larvae consume nutrients from the fish until they transform into mussels. The Salamander Mussel is unique in that their larvae use the aquatic Mudpuppy salamander as a host, instead of a fish.

  • fawnsfoot

    Fawnsfoot (Truncilla donaciformis)

    Status: endangered

    This mussel can be distinguished from other Canadian freshwater species by the chevron-shaped markings on its shell and its very small size.

  • rayed-bean

    Rayed Bean (Villosa fabalis)

    Status: endangered

    The Rayed Bean is extremely rare throughout its range. It is known from fewer than 25 river systems in Canada and the United States.

  • gravel-chub

    Gravel Chub (Erimystax x-punctatus)

    Status: extirpated

    The bottom-feeding Gravel Chub uses sensitive barbels, or whiskers, at the corners of its mouth to find its prey of small insects and larvae by probing under rocks and in crevices.

  • paddlefish

    Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula)

    Status: extirpated

    Paddlefish have no teeth and eat by filtering zooplankton out of the water. They swim with their mouths open, filtering the water through gill arches in the mouth. The gill arches have filaments on them called gill rakers that sieve the zooplankton organisms from the water.

  • lake-sturgeon

    Lake Sturgeon (Southern Hudson Bay - James Bay population) (Acipenser fulvescens)

    Status: special concern

    The oldest known specimen of this fish, from Lake Huron, is 155 years old.

  • upper-great-lakes-kiyi

    Upper Great Lakes Kiyi (Coregonus kiyi kiyi)

    Status: special concern

    The Kiyi can be distinguished from the two other deepwater cisco species, Bloater and Shortjaw Cisco, known to exist in the Great Lakes by its unique combination of long paired fins, and eyes so large they make up almost 25 per cent of the head length.

  • grass-pickerel

    Grass Pickerel (Esox americanus vermiculatus)

    Status: special concern

    The Grass Pickerel is a top predator and hunts by sight, either stalking or ambushing its preferred prey. Young Grass Pickerel usually feed on insects, while adults target other fish, sometimes even eating the young of their own species.

  • blackstripe-topminnow

    Blackstripe Topminnow (Fundulus notatus)

    Status: special concern

    During the breeding season, the normally drab-looking, male Eastern Sand Darters become flushed with yellowish colouration and can develop metallic blue and green colours on their cheeks.

  • northern-brook-lamprey

    Northern Brook Lamprey (Ichthyomyzon fossor)

    Status: special concern

    Unlike some other lamprey species, the Northern Brook Lamprey is non-parasitic and does not attach itself to larger host fish. The larvae are filter-feeders, consuming microscopic plant and animal life and decaying matter. Adults have a non-functional intestine and do not feed.

  • silver-lamprey

    Silver Lamprey (Great Lakes- Upper St. Lawrence River population) (Ichthyomyzon unicuspis)

    Status: special concern

    Silver lampreys belong to the most ancestral lineage of vertebrates (animals with backbones). From them we may be able to learn about evolutionary pathways, such as the transition from jawless to jawed vertebrates.

  • northern-sunfish

    Northern Sunfish (Great Lakes - upper St. Lawrence populations) (Lepomis peltastes)

    Status: special concern

  • spotted-sucker

    Spotted Sucker (Minytrema melanops)

    Status: special concern

    Spotted Sucker was not observed in Canada until 1962, when it was captured by a commerical fisherman in Lake St. Clair.

  • river-redhorse

    River Redhorse (Moxostoma carinatum)

    Status: special concern

    The maximum age reported for River Redhorse in Canada is 28 years.

  • bridle-shiner

    Bridle Shiner (Notropis bifrenatus)

    Status: special concern

    The Bridle Shiner can be easily confused with the Blacknose Shiner, Blackchin Shiner and the Pugnose Shiner with which it commonly shares clear vegetated habitats.

  • rainbow-mussel

    Rainbow (Villosa iris)

    Status: special concern

    A mussel larva must attach to a host fish where it stays until is has consumed enough nutrients to transform into a juvenile mussel. The female Rainbow Mussel goes fishing for host fish by producing a lure that looks just like a crayfish, including an eyespot and wriggling legs. When a fooled fish attacks the lure the mussel ejects its larvae, which have a better chance of attaching to the host fish at such a close distance.

  • lake-sturgeon

    Lake Sturgeon (Great Lakes - Upper St. Lawrence River population) (Acipenser fulvescens)

    Status: threatened

    The oldest known specimen of this fish, from Lake Huron, is 155 years old.

  • lake-sturgeon

    Lake Sturgeon (Northwestern Ontario population) (Acipenser fulvescens)

    Status: threatened

    The oldest known specimen of this fish, from Lake Huron, is 155 years old.

  • shortjaw-cisco

    Shortjaw Cisco (Coregonus zenithicus)

    Status: threatened

    When it was more common, the Shortjaw Cisco was likely an important food source for fish predators such as Lake Trout and Burbot.

  • lake-chubsucker

    Lake Chubsucker (Erimyzon sucetta)

    Status: threatened

    Female Lake Chubsuckers can lay up to 20,000 eggs each!

  • cutlip-minnow

    Cutlip Minnow (Exoglossum maxillingua)

    Status: threatened

    The Cutlip Minnow is reported to attack and eat the eyes of other fish, which has earned it the nickname eye-picker.

  • wavy-rayed-lampmussel

    Wavy-rayed Lampmussel (Lampsilis fasciola)

    Status: threatened

    The Wavy-rayed Lampmussel can fish. To attract a fish host that its parasitic larvae can attach to, the female produces a lure that looks like a wriggling minnow. When a fooled fish attacks the lure, the mussel ejects its larvae, which have a better chance of attaching to the host at such a close distance.

  • silver-chub

    Silver Chub (Macrhybopsis storeriana)

    Status: threatened

    Pollution abatement in and around Lake Erie has improved water quality dramatically which has helped improve habitat conditions for the Silver Chub.

  • black-redhorse

    Black Redhorse (Moxostoma duquesnei)

    Status: threatened

    During the breeding season, the body colour of the male Black Redhorse changes from bluish-silver to a darker greenish-black.

  • pugnose-shiner

    Pugnose Shiner (Notropis anogenus)

    Status: threatened

    The Pugnose Shiner is one of the rarest minnows in eastern North America.

  • silver-shiner

    Silver Shiner (Notropis photogenis)

    Status: threatened

    Silver Shiners are easily confused with Emerald Shiners and Rosyface Shiners, which may have contributed to the fact that they were only confirmed in Canada in 1973, but may have always been present.

  • threehorn-wartyback

    Threehorn Wartyback (Obliquaria reflexa)

    Status: threatened

  • pugnose-minnow

    Pugnose Minnow (Opsopoeodus emiliae)

    Status: threatened

    Pugnose Minnows have a lifespan of about three years.

  • channel-darter

    Channel Darter (Percina copelandi)

    Status: threatened

    The sandy colour of the Channel Darter provides perfect camouflage with the sandy river and lake bottoms where it lives.

  • mapleleaf-mussel

    Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula quadrula)

    Status: threatened

    The Mapleleaf Mussel depends on the channel catfish to survive. By attaching itself to the gills of the catfish, the mussel larvae consume nutrients from the fish until they transform into juvenile mussels and drop off.

  • lilliput

    Lilliput (Toxolasma parvum)

    Status: threatened

Updated: October 16, 2017