Books & Journals on Fish Identification, Distribution, and Ecology

Below is a list of field guides and species description books for North American freshwater fishes (and a few marine ones).

If your state or province isn't listed, an adjacent area's book is a good bet.  Even if your state or province is listed, check out others in your area as well; you may find one book's shortcomings are another's strength.

If there is a book of which we are unaware, please E-mail us at

Gila Trout, Oncorhynchus gilae
William Roston

If you're having a hard time locating a book, try these used book search sites:

Advanced Book Exchange
Internet Bookshop (UK)

Native Fish Collecting and Keeping

Baugh, T. 1980. A Net full of Natives.
RCM Publications. Sierra Madre, California.

Goldstein, Robert J., Rodney W. Harper, and Richard Edwards. 2000. American Aquarium Fishes
(W.L. Moody, Jr., Natural History Series, No 28)

Quinn, J.R. 1990. Our Native Fishes- The Aquarium Hobbyist's Guide to Observing, Collecting and Keeping Them.
The Countryman Press. 242 pp.
(Out of print, unfortunately)

Quinn, J.R. 1994. Fishwatching- Your Complete Guide to the Underwater World.
The Countryman Press. 272 pp.

Quinn, J.R. 1994. The Fascinating Freshwater Fish Book. How to Catch, Keep and Observe Your Own Native Fish.
John Wiley and Sons. 128 pp.
(For ages 10-15)

Schleser, David M. 1998. North American Native Fishes for the Home Aquarium.
Barron's. 169 pp.

Smith, C.L. 1994. Fish Watching - An Outdoor Guide to Freshwater Fishes.
Cumstock Publishing, Ithaca, 216 pp.

General or Regional Identification

Bailey, Reeve M. Atlas of Michigan Fishes With Keys and Illustrations for Their Identification (University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology//Miscellaneous Publications)

Benz, George and David Collins (eds) 1997. Aquatic Fauna in Peril: the Southeastern Perspective. Southeast Aquatic Research Institute Special Publ. no.1.
(Comments from J.R. Shute: This is a 550+ page book that represents papers given at a 1997 symposium held at the Tennessee Aquarium. It is a great perspective on the problems facing aquatic ecosystems in the southeast. It's not strictly fish. It also covers mollusks, insects, birds, amphibians etc., but it's a great illustration of how all of these are tied together and how protecting the aquatic ecosystems helps protect them all!)

Coad, B.W., with Waszczuk, Henry (contributor) and Labignan, Italo (contributor). 1995. Encyclopedia of Canadian Fishes. Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, and Canadian Sportfishing Productions, Waterdown, Ontario. viii + 928 pp., 3 tables, 1218 illustrations, 128 colour plates. ISBN 0-9692391-7-3 ($100).

Eberle, M.E. and J.R. Tomelleri. 1990. Fishes of the Central United States. University Press of Kansas. 226 pp plus 52 color plates.

Eddy, S. 1969. How to Know the Freshwater Fishes. 2nd ed. Wm. C. Brown Co., Dubuque, Iowa. 286 pp.

Eddy, S., and J. C. Underhill. 1974. Northern Fishes. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. 414 pp.

Fowler, H.W. 1945. A study of the fishes of the southern piedmont and coastal plain. Monograph 7, Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, 408 pp + 313 line drawings on plates
(Note from Jan Hoover - "This is a great old reference and copies were still available from ANSP in 1993!")

Hoese, H.D. and R.H. Moore. 1977. Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and Adjacent Waters. Texas A&M. 346 pp.
(2nd edition was published in 1998 and is available in both paper and hard covers. Our thanks go out Dave McNeely for bringing that to our attention.)

Hubbs, C.L. and K.F. Lagler (revised and updated by G.R Smith). 2004. Fishes of the Great Lakes Region, University of Michigan Press. 6 x 9. 332 pgs. 52 drawings, 210 color and B&W photographs, 4 tables, 213 maps.

Hubbs, C.L. and K.F. Lagler. 1964 (3rd edition). Fishes of the Great Lakes Region, University of Michigan Press. 213 pp plus 44 color plates.

Kuehne, R.A. and R.W. Barbour. 1983. American Darters. University of Kentucky. 177 pp.

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 Museum of Natural History.

Matthews, William J. and David C. Heins (eds). 1987. Community and Evolutionary Ecology of North American Stream Fishes. University of Oklahoma Press. 310 pp.

McAllister, D.E. 1990. A List of the Fishes of Canada. National Museum of Natural Sciences. Ottawa. 310 pp.

McEachran, John D. and Janice D. Fechhelm. 1998.  Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico, Volume 1:  Myxiniformes to Gasterosteiformes.

Miller, Robert Rush, W. L. Minckley, and Steven Mark Norris Freshwater Fishes of Mexico. Published in association with the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan. 652 p.

Miller, W.H., H.M. Tyus and C.A. Carlson (eds.). 1982. American Fisheries Society. 131 pp.

Naiman, R.J and D.L. Soltz. 1985. Fishes in North American Deserts. Krieger. 564 pp.

Page, L.M. 1983. Handbook of Darters. T.F.H. Publications. 271 pp.

Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr. 1991. A Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes. Houghton Mifflin. 432 pp.

Scott, W. B., and E. J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater Fishes of Canada. Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Ottawa. Bulletin 184.

Sigler, W.F. and J.W. Sigler. 1987. Fishes of the Great Basin: A Natural History. University of Nevada Press. 425 pp. plus 8 color plates.

Soltz, D.L. and R.J. Naiman. 1978. The Natural History of Native Fishes in the Death Valley System. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. 76 pp.

Werner, Robert G. Freshwater Fishes of the Northeastern United States: A Field Guide

Williams, J.D. et al. 1983. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Fishes, Whales and Dolphins. Alfred Knopf. 848 pp.

State and Province Guides

Atton, F.M. and Merkowsky, J.J. 1983. Atlas of Saskatchewan Fish. Saskatchewan Parks and Renewable Resources, Fisheries Tech. Report 83-2.

Bailey, R.M., and A.O. Allum. 1962. Fishes of South Dakota. University of Michigan. Museum of Zoology. Miscellaneous Publication No. 119. 131 pp.

Baxter, G. T. and J. R. Simon. 1970. Wyoming fishes. Wyoming Game Fish Comm. Bull. No. 4. 168 pp.

Becker, G. C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison.
(Now online at!)

Beckman, W. C. 1970. Guide to the Fishes of Colorado. Univ. of Colo. Mus., Boulder, Colorado. 110 pp.

Bennett, D.L. and R.W. McFarlane. 1983. The Fishes of the Savannah River Plant: National Environmental Research Park. Publication of the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. Aiken, SC. 152 pp.

Bernatchez, Louis and Marie Giroux. 1991. Guide des poissons d'eau douce du Quebec. Editions Broquet Inc., 304 pp., colour photographs.
"A very good field guide for the fish of Quebec. Though it is in French, the common names are given in English and listed in the index." Comments by Karen den Hertog, Montreal, Quebec.

Bond, C.E. 1994. Keys to Oregon Freshwater Fishes. OSU Book Stores. Corvallis. 53 pp.

Boschung, H.T. 1992. Catalog of Freshwater and Marine Fishes of Alabama. University of Alabama. 266 pp.

Boschung, Herbert T., Richard L. Mayden, Joseph R. Tomelleri Fishes of Alabama

Briggs, J.C. 1958. A list of Florida fishes and their distribution. Bull. Fla. St. Mus. 2: 223-318.

Brown, C.J.D. 1971. Fishes of Montana. Big Sky Books. Montana State University. 207 pp.

Burr, B.M. and M.L. Warren, Jr. 1986. A Distributional Atlas of Kentucky Fishes. Kentucky Nature and Preserves Commission Scientific and Technical Series Number 4. 398 pp.

Carr, A. and C.J. Goin. 1955. Guide to the reptiles, amphibians, and freshwater fishes of Florida. Univ. Fla. Press, Gainesville, 341 pp.

Clay, W.M. 1962. A Field Manual of Kentucky Fishes. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

Collins, J.T. and F.B. Cross. 1995 (2nd ed). Fishes in Kansas (Public Education Series, No. 14). University Press of Kansas. 315 pp plus 36 color plates.

Cooper, E. L. 1983. Fishes of Pennsylvania and the Northeastern United States. Pennsylvania State University Press. 243 pp.

Cook, F.A. 1959. Freshwater Fishes in Mississippi. Mississippi Game and Fish Commission. 239 pp.

Dahlberg, M.D. and D.C. Scott. 1971. The freshwater fishes of Georgia. Bull. Ga. Acad. Sci. 29: 1-64.

Douglas, N. 1974. Freshwater Fishes of Louisiana. Claitor’s Publishing Division. 239 pp.

Etnier, D.A. and W.C. Starnes. 1993. The Fishes of Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press. 681 pp.

Everhart. 1961. Fishes of Maine. Augusta: Maine Dept. Inland Fisheries.

Everhart, W.H. and W.R. Seaman. 1971. Fishes of Colorado. Colorado Game, Fishes, and Parks Division, Denver, 75 pp.

Gilbert, C.R. (editor). 1992. Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida, Volume 2, Fishes. University Press of Florida. 336 pp.

Gilhen, J. 1974. The Fishes of Nova Scotia's Lakes and Streams. Nova Scotia Museum. Halifax. 49pp.

Goodson, G. 1985. The Many-Splendored Fishes of Hawai'i. Stanford. 91 pp.

Gowanloch, J.N. 1933. Fishes and fishing in Louisiana. Bulletin No. 23, Louisiana Department of Conservation, Baton Rouge, 638 pp.
(Note from Jan Hoover: "Its a goody but I have never found a copy for myself. For years it was the definitive reference on fishes of Louisiana. Darters, shiners, and other small stuff are all but ignored, but there's a wealth of information on the larger marine and freshwater fishes, including methods of catching, laws, cultural significance and recipes.")

Harlan, J.R. and E.B. Speaker. 1987. Iowa Fish and Fishing. Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Holton, G.D. and H.E. Johnson. 1996. A Field Guide to Montana Fishes. Falcon Pr Pub Co. 104 pp.

Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards and G.P. Garrett. 1991. An Annotated Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of Texas, with Keys to Identification of Species. The Texas Journal of Science, Supplement, Vol. 43, No. 4. 56 pp.

Hubbs, C.L. and G.P. Cooper. 1936. Minnows of Michigan, Cranbrook Inst. Sci., Bull. 8, Bloomfield Hills, 95 pp.
(Note from Jan Hoover- "Copies are available from used book dealers but spiral-bound photocopies may be available from Cranbrook.")

Jenkins, R. and N. Burkhead. 1993. Freshwater Fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society. 1080 pp.

Kemp, R.J. 1971. Freshwater fishes of Texas. Bull. 5-A, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin, 40 pp.

Kimsey, J. B. and L. O. Fisk. 1964. Freshwater Nongame Fishes of California. California Department of Fish and Game. 54 pp.

Koster. 1957. Guide to the Fishes of New Mexico.

Laerm, J. and B.J. Freeman. 1986. Fishes of the Okefenokee Swamp. University of Georgia Press.

La Rivers, I. 1994. (2nd ed.). Fishes and Fisheries of Nevada. University of Nevada Press. 782 pp.

Loftus, W.F. and J.A. Kushlan. 1987. Freshwater Fishes of Southern Florida. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum, Biological Sciences, Vol. 31, No. 4. 198 pp.

Loyacano, H.A., Jr. 1975. A list of freshwater fishes of South Carolina. Bull. 580 (?? Publisher)

Lyons, John, Philip A. Cochran, and Don Fago. 2000. Wisconsin Fishes 2000: Status and Distribution. 100 pages. Wisconsin Sea Grant.

Mandrak, N.E. and E.J. Crossman. 1992. A Checklist of Ontario Freshwater Fishes: Annotated With Distribution Maps. Royal Ontario Museum.   176 pp.

Marcy, Barton C., Dean E. Fletcher, F. Douglas Martin, Michael H. Paller, Marcel J. M. Reicher Fishes Of The Middle Savannah River Basin: With Emphasis On The Savannah River Site

McAllister, D.E. and B.W. Coad.  1974. Fishes of Canada's National Capitol Region.  Misc. Publ. No. 24. National Museum of Natural Sciences, Ottawa. 200 pp.

McGinnis, S. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of California (California Natural History Guides, No 49). University of California Press. 316 pp. plus 16 color plates.

McGowan, N., R.J. Kemp, Jr. and R. McCune. 1971. Freshwater Fishes of Texas. Bulletin 5-A. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.`40 pp.

McPhail, J. D. and C. C. Lindsey. 1970. Freshwater Fishes of Northwestern Canada and Alaska. Bull. Fish. Res. Board Can. 173. 381 pp.

Menhinick, E.F. 1991. The Freshwater Fishes of North Carolina. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. The Delmar Co. Larkin Distributors. 227 pp.

Menhinick, E.F., T.M. Burton, and J.R. Bailey. 1974. An annotated checklist of the freshwater fishes of North Carolina. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 90(1): 24-50.
(Note from Jan Hoover: "This reference is redundant with Menhinick 1991 [The Freshwater Fishes of North Carolina] but might be worth listing because it would be available to individuals and libraries carrying the journal.)

Mettee, M.F., P.E. O'Neil and J.M. Pierson. 1996. Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Oxmoor House. 819 pp.

Miller, R. J. and H. W. Robison. 1973. The Fishes of Oklahoma. Oklahoma State University Press, Stillwater. 246 pp.

Minckley, W. L. 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Arizona Department of Fish and Game, 229 pp.

Morris, J., L. Morris, and L. Witt. 1974. The fishes of Nebraska. Nebraska Game and Parks Comission, Lincoln, 98 pp

Morrow, J. E. 1980. The Freshwater Fishes of Alaska. Alaska Northwest Publishing Company, Anchorage. 248 pp.

Moyle, P. B. 1976. Inland Fishes of California. University of California Press, Berkeley. 405 pp.

Mugford, P.S. 1969. Illustrated Manual of Massachusetts Freshwater Fishes. Mass. Dept. Fish and Game Publ. 4064. 127 pp.

Murdy, E. O., R. S. Birdsong and J. A. Musick. 1997. Fishes of Chesapeake Bay. Smithsonian Inst. Press. 324 pp. 

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. 1987. The Fish Book. NEBRASKAland Magazine vol. 64, no. 1.

Nelson, J. S. and M. J. Paetz. 1991. The Fishes of Alberta. University of Alberta Press and University of Calgary Press. 438 pp.

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, 1962. Some North Carolina Fresh-Water Fishes. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Raleigh, 46 pp.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department. 1986. Fishes of North Dakota. North Dakota Game and Fish Department, Bismarck, ND. 8pp.

Pflieger, W. L. 1991 (2nd ed). The Fishes of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation. 342 pp.

Phillips, G. L., W. D. Schmid, and J. C. Underhill. 1982. Fishes of the Minnesota Region. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. 248 pp.

Raasch, M. S. and V.L. Altemus. 1991. Delaware's Freshwater and Brackish Water Fishes. A Popular Account. Delaware State College Center for the Study of Del-Mar-Va Habitats and Society of Natural History of Delaware. 166 pp.

Rice, Daniel L. and Gary Meszaros. 2014. Native Fishes of Ohio. Kent State University Press. 128 pp.

Robison, H.W., and T.M. Buchanan. 1988. Fishes of Arkansas. The University of Arkansas Press. 536 pp.

Rohde, F.C., R.G. Arndt, D.G. Lindquist and J.F. Parnell. 1994. Freshwater Fishes of the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. University of North Carolina Press. 222 pp. plus 48 color plates.

Ross, Stephen T. 2002. Inland Fishes of Mississippi University Press of Mississippi. 624 pp.

Scarola, J.F. 1973. Freshwater Fishes of New Hampshire. NH Fish and Game Department. 131 pp.

Schwartz, F.J. 1963. The fresh-water minnows of Maryland. Maryland Conservationist 40(2): 19-29.

Scott, W.B.. 1967. Freshwater Fishes of Eastern Canada. 2nd Ed. Univ. of Toronto Press. 137 pp.

Scott, W.B. and E.J. Crossman. 1969. Checklist of Canadian Freshwater Fishes with Keys for Identification. Life Sciences Misc. Publication of the Royal Ontario Museum. 104 pp.

Sigler, W.F. and R.R. Miller. 1963. Fishes of Utah. Utah State Dept. Fish Game. 203 pp.

Sigler, W.F. and J.W. Sigler. 1996. Fishes of Utah: A Natural History. University of Utah Press. 375 pp. plus 16 color plates.

Simpson, J.C. and R. Wallace. 1978. Fishes of Idaho. University Press of Idaho. 237 pp.

Smith, C.L. 1986. The Inland Fishes of New York State. New York State Dept of Publication. 522 pp. plus 8 color plates.

Smith, J.V.C. 1833 (Reprinted 1970). Natural history of the fishes of Massachusetts. Freshet Press, NY, 400 pp.
(Note from Jan Hoover - "New copies of this slipcased, hardcover reprint were still available at low prices [< $5] as recently as 1990".)

Smith, P.W. 1979. The Fishes of Illinois. University of Illinois Press. 314 pp.

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1968. Freshwater fishes of Alabama. Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn, 211 pp.

Stauffer, J.R., Jr., J.M. Boltz and L.R. White. 1995. The Fishes of West Virginia. Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 389 pp. plus 1 fold-out map.

Sublette, J.E., M.D. Hatch and M. Sublette. 1990. The Fishes of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press. 393 pp.

Texas Parks and Wilflife Department, 1978. Saltwater fishes of Texas. Bull 52, Texas Parks and Wilfdlife department, Austin, 41 pp.

Trautman, M.B. 1981. The Fishes of Ohio. Ohio State University Press. 782 pp.

Wang, J.C.S. and R.J. Kernehan. 1979. Fishes of the Delaware Estuaries. Johnson C.S. Wang and Ronnie J. Kernehan. 410 pp.

Werner, R.G. 1980. Freshwater Fishes of New York State: A Field Guide. Syracuse University Press. 186 pp.

Whitworth, W.R., P.L. Berrien and W.T. Keller. 1968 (reprinted in 1976 and 1988). Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection. Bulletin 101. 134 pp.

Woodling, J. 1985. Colorado's Little Fish. A Guide to the Minnows and Other Lesser Known Fishes in the State of Colorado. Colorado Division of Wildlife. 77 pp.

Wydoski, R.S. and R.R. Whitney. 1979. Inland Fishes of Washington. University of Washington Press. 220 pp.

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