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

Course Objectives

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

Class vs Field

Class: 1.0 or 2.0 days; Field: no field session(s)


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

See Course schedule


See Registration  


Course fees are refundable if you withdraw a minimum of 10 days prior to the start date of the course. Note that special refund deadlines are stated for some courses, and we are unable to issue refunds after those deadlines - information will appear in the intake's details available on the Course Schedule.
Non-Refundable Fees: Some courses may have non-refundable tuition, application, and/or lab fees.
Please note: A full refund is issued if a course is cancelled.