Coregonus artedi


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



  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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.


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


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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


Boreal border

Last updated on 6 November 1999