Pygmy Whitefish
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Name and Code
Salmonidae - trouts and salmons
Prosopium coulterii
Taxonomic Authority
(Eigenmann & Eigenmann, 1892)
Common Name(s)
Pygmy Whitefish
French Name
ménomini pygmée
Family TSN
Parent TSN
Species TSN
Conservation Status
Global Rank (GRank)
G5 (2008-01-15)
National Rank (NRank)
N4N5 (2011-09-14)
Provincial Rank (SRank)
SU (1997-10-10)
Threatened*, Data Deficient (Nov 2016)
SARO Status
AFS Status
Ecological Value
Ontario Origin
General Abundance
limited distribution
Economic Importance
Habitat and Feeding
General Habitat(s)
lacustrine; riverine
Trophic Class
Thermal Regime
Habitat Preference
cold, deep waters (18-90 m) of lakes, usually >30 m; preferred water temperature <10°C
Reproductive Guild
Nonguarders: Open substratum spawners: Lithophils
Spawning Habitat(s)
lacustrine; riverine
Spawning Season
Spawning Month(s)
Spawning Temperature (°C)
Nursery Habitat(s)
Size and Age
Adult Length (cm)
9.1-15.1 TL
Adult Weight (kg)
Age at Maturity (yrs)
2 (m); 3 (f)
Maximum Length (cm)
27.1 FL
Maximum Weight (kg)
Lifespan (yrs)
5-7 (m); 7-9 (f)
Ontario Range Map
Pygmy Whitefish range
Ontario Distribution
Lake Superior, northwestern Ontario (Delaney Lake, Silver Lake, Winnange Lake, Mameigwess Lake) Saskatchewan - Nelson River basin
Pygmy Whitefish photograph
* - Great Lakes - Upper St. Lawrence populations; Lake Superior population discovered in 1952 is over 1,600 km outside the normal range (Pacific Northwest)
Ontario Records
Record Length (cm)
14.2 TL
Record Weight (kg)
Information Sources
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Carlander, K.D. 1969. Handbook of freshwater fishery biology. Volume one. Life history data on freshwater fishes of the United States and Canada, exclusive of the Perciformes. Iowa State University Press. Ames, IA. vi + 752 pp.
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Coker, G.A., C.B. Portt, and C.K. Minns. 2001. Morphological and ecological characteristics of Canadian freshwater fishes. Can. MS Rpt. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2554:iv+89p.
COSEWIC. 2016. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Pygmy Whitefish Prosopium coulterii, Southwestern Yukon Beringian populations, Yukon River populations, Pacific populations, Western Arctic populations, Great Lakes – Upper St. Lawrence populations, Waterton Lake populations and Saskatchewan - Nelson Rivers populations in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. iv + 69 pp.
COSEWIC. 2017. Canadian wildlife species at risk. October 2017. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Gatineau, QC. iv + 119 pp.
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Ditz, K and M. Croft-White. 2013. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources fish species codes & common names. Ichthyology and Herpetology, Royal Ontario Museum. May 1994. Reformatted and revised by M. Croft-White, 2013.
Goldstein, R.M. and T.P. Simon. 1999. Toward a united definition of guild structure for feeding ecology of North American freshwater fishes. Pages 123-202 in T.P. Simon [Ed]. Assessing the sustainability and biological integrity of water resources using fish communities. CRC Press. Boca Raton, FL. xx + 671 pp.
Goodyear, C.S., T.A. Edsall, D.M. Ormsby Dempsey, G.D. Moss, and P.E. Polanski. 1982. Atlas of the spawning and nursery areas of Great Lakes fishes. Volume thirteen: Reproductive characteristics of Great Lakes fishes. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Washington, DC. FWS/OBS-82/52.
Holm, E., N. Mandrak, and M. Burridge. 2009. The ROM field guide to freshwater fishes of Ontario. Royal Ontario Museum Science Publication. Toronto, ON. 462 pp.
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Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). 2014. On-line database. (, accessed 07 June 2014.
Lane, P.A., C.B. Portt, and C.K. Minns. 1996. Nursery habitat characteristics of Great Lakes fishes. Can. MS Rpt. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2338:v+42p.
Lane, P.A., C.B. Portt, and C.K. Minns. 1996. Adult habitat characteristics of Great Lakes fishes. Can. MS Rpt. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2358:v+43p.
Lane, P.A., C.B. Portt, and C.K. Minns. 1996. Spawning habitat characteristics of Great Lakes fishes. Can. MS Rpt. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2368:v+48p.
Lee, D.S., C.R. Gilbert, C.H. Hocutt, R.E. Jenkins, D.E. McAllister, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History Publication 1980-12. Raleigh, NC. x + 867 pp.
Mandrak, N.E. and E.J. Crossman. 1992. A checklist of Ontario freshwater fishes annotated with distribution maps. Royal Ontario Museum Life Sciences Miscellaneous Publication. Toronto, ON. v + 176 pp.
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McPhail, J.D. and C.C. Lindsey. 1970. Freshwater fishes of northwestern Canada and Alaska. Bull. Fish. Res. Board Can. 173. Ottawa, ON. 381 pp.
NatureServe. 2016. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe. Arlington, Virginia. (, accessed 11 June 2016.
Nelson, J.S. and M.J. Paetz. 1992. The fishes of Alberta, 2nd edition. The University of Alberta Press and The University of Calgary Press. Edmonton and Calgary, AB. xxvi + 437 pp.
Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr. 2011. Peterson field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico, second edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Boston, MA. xix + 663 pp.
Page, L.M., H. Espinosa-Pérez, L.T. Findley, C.R. Gilbert, R.N. Lea, N.E. Mandrak, R.L. Mayden, and J.S. Nelson. 2013. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. 7th Edition. American Fisheries Society, Spec. Publ. 34. Bethesda, MD. 243 pp.
Phillips, G.L., W.D. Schmid, and J.C. Underhill. 1982. Fishes of the Minnesota region. University of Minnesota Press. Minneapolis, MN. x + 248 pp.
Portt, C.B., G. Coker, and C.K. Minns. 1999. Riverine Habitat Characteristics of Fishes of the Great Lakes Watershed. Can. MS Rpt. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2481:vi+62p.
Scott, W.B. 1967. Freshwater fishes of eastern Canada, second edition. University of Toronto Press. Toronto, ON. xii + 137 pp.
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Stewart, T.R., D.H. Ogle, O.T. Gorman, and M.R. Vinson. 2016. Age, growth, and size of Lake Superior Pygmy Whitefish (Prosopium coulterii). Am. Midl. Nat. 175:24-36.