Flagship Flagship fish species

Fishes are often forgotten in conservation initiatives because they are almost invisible to human eyes. Nevertheless, they are an essential part of aquatic ecosystems.

Your cleanup will possibly have positive impacts on the fish species inhabiting your shoreline. For instance, you will decrease the chance that individuals get entangled or eat debris. You will also limit the amount of chemical compounds that enter the ecosystem through debris degradation. These chemicals may be harmful to fish.

However, your cleanup could also have negative impacts if it is not done with care. It is important not to trample the bottom of water courses and not to degrade aquatic plant beds, as they are important breeding grounds. Furthermore, it is important not to remove any debris that is incorporated into the surrounding environment (for example, when it is partially buried, overgrown with plants or shelters animals).These debris might be considered habitat by some fish species, such as the flathead minnow. Furthermore, you should never pick up anything natural, like dead aquatic plants, broken tree branches or dead fish. They are not debris but part of the natural ecosystem.


CooperCopper redhorse

The copper redhorse is part of the Catostomidae family. Its dorsal scales have a copper hue which earned it its name. This fish can measure up to 70 cm and weight 5.5 kilograms. It has pharyngeal teeth that are the same size as human teeth. It uses them to crush the molluscs that composed most of its diet.

The copper redhorse is a species that can be found only in the province of Québec. It is found nowhere else in the world. It is threatened by water pollution, dams and habitat degradation. The only known reproductive population is found in the Richelieu River, in the Chambly basin. Other small populations are found in the St. Lawrence River, the Thousand-Islands River and the Yamaska River. There would be only a few hundreds individuals left in Quebec which earned him the status of endangered species, both from the provincial and federal governments.

How to distinguish a redhorse from a sucker?

These two fishes are easily confused because they both have a sucker shaped mouth with thick, fleshy lips. However, the redhorse’s lips are granular while the sucker’s lips have small furrows. Another distinctive feature is the size of their scales: Suckers have small scales while redhorses have large scales.


Yellow perch

Yellow perchThe yellow perch is part of the Percidae family, the same family as the walleye. It has an elongated, oval body, with two dorsal fins and seven vertical bands on its flanks. Its pectoral and pelvic fins are reddish-orange.

The yellow perch is a common, gregarious fish. It is found in most freshwater bodies in the northern hemisphere. It prefers clear, shallow water with a moderate amount of vegetation. In spring, this species migrate toward shorelines and small tributaries to reproduce. They then lay there eggs on vegetation. Thus, it is even more important not to stamp on vegetation while you cleanup.

Due to its abundance, it has a great importance in the food chain. It is eaten by many species, especially when they are young. When they reach their adult size, they are important predators with a niche similar to the one of pikes. 

The yellow perch is an important species for commercial and sport fishing. Dozens of tons are fished every year. It has a good taste and can be easily frozen.


Brook troutBrook trout

The brook trout is part of the Salmonidae family. Its coloration is variable but always includes pale spots on a dark background. Its flanks are ornate by red spots with a blue margin. The dorsal and caudal fins are speckled.

This species is common in North America. It prefers clear, fresh and well-oxygenated water. In the warm month of summer, it moves to deeper and fresher waters of lakes and rivers.

At the end of the summer and beginning of fall, the adults migrate to their breeding grounds. These are located in small rivers, brooks and lakes areas with gravely bottom.

One female, depending on their size, can produce between 100 and 5000 large eggs. The eggs are usually laid on well oxygenated gravely bottom. Furthermore natural debris, such as dead branches, aquatic plants and rocks are used as shelters. This is one reason among others not to remove any natural debris during you cleanup.

This species is appreciated by sport fishermen. It can be fished using bait, flys or both. It is frequently sow in lakes and rivers to increase its abundance for fishermen.



Flathead minnow

FlatheadThe flathead minnow is part of the Cyprinidae family, the same family as the carp. Its name comes from the shape of its head: a large flat, rounded head with a short snout. It is usually olive-grey. Its flanks are striated with a black strip and it has a black spot near the tail. It can measure up to 7 cm in length.

This species is common in North America. It lives in pond, lakes, rivers and brooks; it can tolerate brackish water with very low oxygen content. This species can be used to evaluate the toxicity of a water course. It has been accidently introduced in many water bodies after having been used as bait.

In the spring and summer time, females lay their eggs in a nest built under natural or human debris near the shoreline. Males guard the nests until the young hatch. It you think that a flathead minnow has made a nest under debris, don’t pick it up. You can guess the presence of nest might by the constant movement of a small fish around a particular object.