Protecting a species of special concern: River Redhorse

Find out how you can identify the River Redhorse species so that you can protect it!

Photo credit: Eli Fridland

With over 85 fish species in the Ottawa River, it can be difficult to identify the species that need our help. We’re here to help with that!

Take the River Redhorse, for example. It is listed as a species of concern by the federal Species at Risk Act, by The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), and by the government of Ontario, and as a vulnerable species by the Government of Quebec. This means that if we do not protect it now, it could become threatened or endangered in the future. 

Special Concern vs. Endangered Species
Species at Risk can be classified into 4 different categories, according to the Species at Risk Act (SARA):

Special Concern Threatened Endangered Extirpated
May become threatened or endangered because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats Likely to become endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its extirpation or extinction Facing imminent extirpation or extinction No longer exists in the wild in Canada, but exists elsewhere

Because of its designation as a Species of Special Concern, it’s important that you release the River Redhorse if you catch one. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to identify, and many people mistake it for the Common Carp. Check out our quick facts below to help you identify the River Redhorse, and head to Fisheries and Oceans Canada for more information.

River Redhorse Common Carp
No barbells (whiskers) around the mouth Barbells (whiskers) around the mouth
Brown or olive green back, red caudal (tail) and anal fins (on the rear, bottom of the fish), and the top lobe of the caudal fin is longer than the bottom lobe Common Carp have olive brown sides, yellowish belly and orange-red lower fins
Have a short dorsal fin (on their back) that spans a small part of the back A single dorsal fin that spans large part of the back
Males develop spawning tubercles (bumps) on the face during spring.

The River Redhorse can be found in many locations (see this map), and has been reported spawning around the mouth of the Gatineau River in June. It’s large size and proximity to shore when spawning also means it is easier to catch than other species at that time. Since it only shows up for about a month a year, it it often mistaken for the Common Carp.

Take Action!
If you see something of concern while out fishing, please call:
Ontario: OMNRF natural resource violations at 1-877-847-7667
Quebec: SOS Poaching at 1-800-463-2191

One response to “Protecting a species of special concern: River Redhorse”

  1. Bill Melnik says:

    Hi, I spend a lot of time on the Ottawa river between Fort William and Deep River and regularly sight schools of large Redhorse from 4-8 in quantity.