Coregonus clupeaformis, Lake whitefish : fisheries, gamefish, aquarium

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Coregonus clupeaformis (Mitchill, 1818)

Lake whitefish
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Coregonus clupeaformis
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Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes(genus, species) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Teleostei (teleosts) > Salmoniformes (Salmons) > Salmonidae (Salmonids) > Coregoninae
Etymology: Coregonus: Greek, kore = pupils of the eye + Greek, gonia = angle (Ref. 45335);  clupeaformis: clupeaformis meaning herring-shaped (Ref. 1998).
More on author: Mitchill.

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Freshwater; brackish; benthopelagic; anadromous (Ref. 120291); depth range 8 - 128 m (Ref. 3849). Temperate; 8°C - 14°C (Ref. 1998); 72°N - 41°N, 149°W - 61°W (Ref. 86798)

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

North America: Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific basins throughout most of Canada south into New England, the Great Lakes basin, and central Minnesota, USA; Copper and Susitna river drainages in Alaska. Introduced in northwestern USA (Ref. 86798). This species was stocked into high Andean lakes in two countries in southern Latin America (Ref. 1739). Probably conspecific with Coregonus lavaretus (Ref. 7506). Belongs to Coregonus clupeaformis complex (Ref. 27547).

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 100.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 9988); common length : 54.1 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 12193); max. published weight: 19.0 kg (Ref. 28850); max. reported age: 50 years (Ref. 3494)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 11-13; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 10 - 14; Vertebrae: 55 - 64. Adipose fin well developed, often larger in males; axillary process present in pelvic fins (Ref. 27547). Dark brown to midnight blue above fading to silver on sides and wide beneath; no parr marks in young (Ref. 27547).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Inhabits large lakes and large rivers and enters brackish water (Ref. 86798). Primarily a lake dweller (Ref. 27547). Nerito-pelagic (Ref. 58426). Appears to be rather sedentary, at least in the Great Lakes (Ref. 27547). Movement in large lakes generally consists of 4 stages: movement from deep to shallow water in the spring; movement back to deep water in the summer as the shoal water warms; migration to shallow-water spawning areas in the fall and early winter; and post-spawning movement back to deeper water (Ref. 27547). Forms separate populations in large lakes (Ref. 27547). Adults feed mainly on aquatic insect larvae, mollusks and amphipods (Ref. 1091, 3849); also other fishes and fish eggs, including their own (Ref. 1998). Extensive hatchery programs for the propagation have been carried out on the Great Lakes and other areas for years (Ref. 3746, 3849). Valued for its meat as well as for its roe, which is made into an excellent caviar; utilized fresh, smoked, and frozen; eaten steamed, fried, broiled, boiled, microwaved, and baked (Ref. 9988).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Spawning occurs at night (Ref. 10242, 10344, 28849). A female and one or more males rise to the surface, release eggs and milt and descend separately toward the bottom (Ref. 27547). Spawning fish are very active and may leap completely out of the water (Ref. 1998). Breeds annually in the southern parts of the range, but only every other year or even every third year in the arctic and sub-arctic regions (Ref. 3757).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr, 2011. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 663p. (Ref. 86798)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 130435)


Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans


Human uses

Fisheries: commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: public aquariums
FAO - Fisheries: landings, species profile; Publication: search | FishSource |

More information

Common names
Spawning aggregation
Egg development
Aquaculture profile
Mass conversion
Stamps, Coins Misc.
Swim. type
Gill area


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Internet sources

Estimates based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82804):  PD50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00550 (0.00475 - 0.00636), b=3.23 (3.19 - 3.27), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245).
Trophic level (Ref. 69278):  3.2   ±0.2 se; based on diet studies.
Generation time: 5.0 (4.2 - 6.4) years. Estimated as median ln(3)/K based on 34 growth studies.
Resilience (Ref. 120179):  Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (K=0.06-0.19; tmax=50).
Fishing Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Moderate to high vulnerability (51 of 100).
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Very high.
Nutrients (Ref. 124155):  Calcium = 11.6 [7.5, 20.7] mg/100g; Iron = 0.279 [0.200, 0.389] mg/100g; Protein = 17.7 [16.5, 18.8] %; Omega3 = 0.96 [0.41, 2.48] g/100g; Selenium = 20.8 [10.7, 46.0] μg/100g; VitaminA = 12.2 [4.7, 31.8] μg/100g; Zinc = 0.538 [0.439, 0.650] mg/100g (wet weight); based on nutrient studies.