Identification of Freshwater Fishes

Course Description

This one or two-day, laboratory-based course is a very practical introduction to the identification of both salmonid and non-salmonid freshwater fish species common to a given province*. Using identification keys, participants will complete practical identification exercises to key fish to both species and family level. Other topics reviewed include: classification, voucher sampling, identification key design and use, threatened/endangered species, and life history and distribution information.


  • The one-day course contains less review of non-salmonid species
  • Course content will vary by province or state of delivery. Please contact us for further information


This lecture and "hands-on" course focuses on using preserved and live specimens to give participants an opportunity to practice their identification skills.


Class: 1 or 2 days; No field sessions


No formal prerequisites exist for this course. Ideally, participants are working in or have experience in the fisheries field.

You Supply

Participants are responsible for their own classroom supplies (pen or pencil and paper), and should be dressed appropriately for a laboratory-based training session. Sensitivities to isopropyl alcohol (40% concentration) and formalin (10% concentration at most, usually none used in classroom) should be identified

NREP staff will provide all classroom-related supplies and equipment, including; course manuals, laboratory supplies, biological sampling equipment, and preserved fish specimens.

Course Schedule

Day OneDay Two
  • Introduction
  • Basic fish anatomy
  • Design and use of identification keys
  • Identify regional salmonid and non-salmonid fish species to family and species level


  • Review of non-salmonid identification
  • Non-salmonid identification (e.g., lamprey, sturgeon, minnows, sculpin, stickleback)
  • Preparing a voucher specimen
  • Threatened (red-listed) and vulnerable (blue-listed) fish species in Canada
  • Course review

Upcoming Deliveries and Registration Information

See our program schedule for a list of all upcoming NREP course deliveries. If this course is not currently noted in the schedule, please contact to enquire about future opportunities. Prior to registering for any NREP course, please review the program's registration guidelines, including important cancellation and refund policy information.