Pygmy Whitefish

Pygmy Whitefish
Credit: Gordon Court

Name

  • Common name: Pygmy Whitefish
  • Scientific name: Prosopium coulteri
  • Order: Salmoniformes
  • Family: Coregoninae

Viewing opportunities

  • Pygmy Whitefish are usually found in deeper water of lakes or in moderate to swift rivers and streams.
  • Due to their small size and the presence of parr marks, adults are often misidentified as juveniles of other whitefish species.

Description

  • A cigar-shaped body, round in cross-section.
  • Short head, blunt snout and small mouth devoid of teeth.
  • Dark brown above, silvery below.
  • All fins clear of any pigment.

Fast facts

  • Length: 8 to 12 cm
  • Weight: 30 to 100 g
  • Habitat: Freshwater

Conservation status

What is conservation status?

  • Yukon: S4 (Apparently Secure)
  • Global: G5 (Secure)

Yukon population estimate

Not determined.

Behaviour

The Pygmy Whitefish range in Yukon is limited to the Alsek and Yukon river drainages. Little is known about their behaviour except that they are carnivorous, feeding on organisms such as aquatic insect larvae, crustaceans, and small molluscs. Spawning is thought to occur in autumn or early winter in lakes or streams with the eggs being scattered over gravel.

Diet

Aquatic insects, molluscs, crustaceans and fish eggs.

Distribution

Pygmy Whitefish distribution map.

Pygmy Whitefish and people

  • While seldom seen by people, Pygmy Whitefish are thought to be an important prey species for Lake Trout in a number of Yukon lakes, including Aishihik, Atlin, Kathleen, Marsh, Mayo and Laberge.