Coregonus artedi
Cisco

Cisco

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods

..

Name:

  • Coregonus, from the Greek, "angle eye"
  • artedi, in honor of Swedish naturalist Petrus Artedi, a collegue of Linnaeus and the "Father of Ichthyology"
  • Common Name
  • Other common names include: Blueback, Freshwater Herring, Lake Herring, Tullibee

Taxonomy:

  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Chordata, animals with a spinal chord
    • Subphylum Vertebrata, animals with a backbone
      • Superclass Osteichthyes, bony fishes
      • Class Actinopterygii, ray-finned and spiny rayed fishes
      • Subclass Neopterygii
      • Infraclass Teleostei
        • Superorder Protacanthopterygii
        • Order Salmoniformes, salmon and trout
          • Family Salmonidae, salmon and trout
            • Genus Coregonus, whitefishes

Description:

  • A small, slender-bodied relative of the whitefish
  • Length 11"-15"
  • Weight ½ - 2 lbs
  • Coloration
    • back dark blue to pale olive
    • sides silvery with pink to purple iridescence
    • all fins basically clear, although anal and pelvic fins are milky on adults
  • Body
    • slender
    • adipose fin
    • forked tail
  • Head
    • small
    • protruding lower jaw
  • Lifespan
    • Sexual maturity is reached by about 3-4 years of age.

Identification:

  • Identifiable as a member of the Trout/Salmon family (Salmonidae) by its body shape and adipose fin.
  • While some 14 similar and confusing species of Coregonus are found in Canada and the northern US, only 2 are native to the Boundary Waters.
  • Cisco is distinguished from Lake Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) by
    • lower jaw extending up to or beyond the tip of snout
    • numerous, fine gillrakers

Distribution:

  • Northwest Territories to Labrador, and south to northern Ohio, Illinois, and Minnesota.
  • In Canada in the Hudson Bay drainage. In Minnesota in the Rainy River/Lake of the Woods and the upper Mississippi River, though absent from the Minnesota River. Introduced to the Missouri River in North Dakota.

Habitat:

  • A pelagic species often found in the cooler water below the thermocline in lakes where thermal stratification develops. Also thrive in shallow, eutrophic lakes.
  • Relatively shallow waters of the Great Lakes; infertile inland lakes more than 30' deep.
  • Tend to swim in large schools at midwater depth, moving to shallower water in fall as upper waters cool.

Food:

  • Mainly plankton; also terrestrial and aquatic insects, minnows, and fish eggs.
  • An important food for large game fish.

History:

  • Minnesota Record: 4lbs 3oz, from Big Sandy Lake (Aitkin County).

Uses:

  • Though sometimes taken on rod and reel, its main importance to anglers seems to lie in its role as food for larger game fish, especially Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush).
  • Harvested by commercial fishermen and of some economic importance as a food fish. Marketed whole, dressed, and smoked.

Reproduction:

  • Spawns in late fall when water temperatures drop below about 40º F, usually in shallow water (3'-10' feet deep) over almost any type of bottom, but often over gravel or stony substrate.
  • About 20,000-29,000 eggs are deposited on the lake bottom by each female; no parental care is given eggs or young, which hatch early the following spring.

Comments:

  • The common name Tullibee is credited to early Canadian fur traders and is most commonly used in north Ontario, the Prairie Provinces, and the Northwest Territories.

Links:

Boreal border

Last updated on 6 November 1999