Salvelinus fontinalis(Mitchill, 1814)
member of the Salmon Family (Salmonidae)
Gooseberry River, Lake County, Minnesota 21 April 1998
In a Name?
Do They Live?
Brook trout are native to headwaters and small streams of northeastern and southeastern Minnesota but have been introduced to many parts of the state. Their preferred habitat includes headwater spring ponds and small spring-fed streams that have cool, clear waters with sand and gravel bottoms and moderate amounts of vegetation. They also congregate behind beaver dams. Brook trout often share this habitat with mottled sculpins, white suckers, creek chubs, brook sticklebacks, and pearl dace.
Big Do They Get?
In Minnesota streams, brook trout commonly live for 3-4 years. A few make it to the age of 5 or 6 years.
Do They Eat?
The food of the young brook trout is mostly small insects. Older fish eat larger invertebrates including many types of aquatic (water) insects, sideswimmers, snails, and worms. They also feed on minnows and other small fishes.
Do They Reproduce?
In streams, brook trout move to riffles where spring water passes through the gravel. Here the female constructs a nest by swimming hard into the gravel and vibrating her body and sweeping her tail. She repeats this action many times over a period of a day or two. A male may defend this area while the female builds the nest. After the nest is ready, the female lies in it and is briefly courted by the male. Eventually, the male lies along side of the female and arches his body over hers. The two vibrate and release their eggs and sperm at the same time. The female then uses her tail to cover the eggs with gravel. Flow from the spring seeps into the gravel keeps the eggs oxygenated and clear of silt. The eggs hatch after 50-150 days depending on water temperatures. The colder the water temperature is the longer the development period.
Permission is granted for the non-commercial educational or scientific use of the text and images on this Web document. Please credit the author or authors listed below.
Photographs by Konrad P. Schmidt
and Donald Biemborn
Text by Nicole Paulson & Jay T. Hatch in cooperation with
the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' MinnAqua Aquatic Program
This page developed with funds from the
MinnAqua Program (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fisheries)
Sport Fish Restoration Program (Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior)
Maintained by Jay T. Hatch
General College and James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Last updated 23 October 2002