Explore the Rich Biodiversity of Columbia River Fish at the REACH Museum

Delve into the intriguing world of Columbia River fish as you venture beyond the Hanford Reach area. Immerse yourself in The River Protected exhibit, where a diverse array of species from the Columbia River and Washington lakes coexist harmoniously.

Up Close Encounters with Remarkable Swimmers

Get an up-close and personal experience with these extraordinary aquatic residents. Each fish boasts unique characteristics that set them apart, making them easily recognizable and prized catches for anglers across the state of Washington.

“Do You See Me?” Tags: Spotlighting Featured Fish

As you explore our exhibit, keep an eye out for our “Do You See Me?” tags. These tags highlight the daily featured fish, providing an opportunity for a deeper connection with these underwater inhabitants. While all the fish coexist harmoniously, these tags offer a special glimpse into specific species each day.

Dive into Discovery

Start your exploration today and dive into the wonders that await in the aquatic realm. Discover the Columbia River’s vibrant ecosystem and the integral role these fish play, both in the river’s health and our collective understanding of its complex dynamics. Plan your visit to the REACH Museum and embark on an educational journey that reveals the hidden treasures beneath the water’s surface.

Featured Columbia River Fish:

Here’s an alphabetical list of remarkable fish species from the Columbia River, each accompanied by a brief description of their unique traits, habitats, significance within the river’s ecosystem, and one or two distinctive facts.

  • BLUEGILL (Lepomis macrochirus)
    • Size:  Up to 12 inches in length and around 4.5 ounces in weight.
    • Description:  The vibrant Bluegill, known for its distinctive blue & yellow markings, thrives in slow-moving waters.  A popular target for anglers, it’s recognized for its willingness to bite and provide an enjoyable fishing experience.
    • Unique Fact:  Bluegill are known for their remarkable parental care, with males creating nests and guarding the eggs until they hatch.


  • CHISELMOUTH (Acrocheilus alutaceus)
    • Size: Typically 5 to 6 inches long, with a weight around 1 ounce.
    • Description: The Chiselmouth stands out with its elongated snout. It is often found in river and stream environments, playing a role in maintaining aquatic insect populations.
    • Unique Fact: Chiselmouths are known for their ability to thrive in a range of habitats, making them adaptable residents of the Columbia River ecosystem.


  • MOTTLED SCULPIN (Cottus bairdii)
    • Size: Around 3 to 5 inches in length, weighing approximately 0.3 to 0.4 ounces.
    • Description: The Mottled Sculpin is a small fish with a mottled appearance, providing camouflage against riverbeds. It’s an essential predator that helps control insect populations.
    • Unique Fact: Mottled Sculpins have a remarkable ability to cling to rocks in fast-moving currents, thanks to their flattened bodies and specialized pelvic fins.


  • PACIFIC LAMPREY (Entosphenus tridentatus)
    • Size: Can reach up to 24 inches in length, with a weight of about 1 to 2 ounces.
    • Description: The Pacific Lamprey, with its unique appearance and fascinating life cycle, holds cultural and ecological significance in the Columbia River ecosystem.
    • Unique Fact: Pacific Lampreys are anadromous, spending part of their life in the ocean before returning to freshwater to spawn, similar to salmon.


  • PUMPKINSEED SUNFISH (Lepomis gibbosus)
    • Size: Typically 4 to 6 inches long and weighing approximately 2 to 5 ounces.
    • Description: Recognized by its pumpkinseed-shaped body and striking coloration, the Pumpkinseed Sunfish is a sun-loving species that inhabits shallow waters.
    • Unique Fact: Pumpkinseed Sunfish are known for their distinctive feeding behavior, using their specialized teeth to crush the shells of aquatic snails and insects.


  • REDSIDE SHINER (Richardsonius balteatus)
    • Size: Generally 2 to 4 inches in length and weighing around 0.1 to 0.2 ounces.
    • Description: The Redside Shiner, with its vibrant lateral stripe, thrives in various habitats and is an essential component of the river’s food web.
    • Unique Fact: Redside Shiners are particularly important foraging prey for larger fish, contributing to the river’s overall aquatic ecosystem.


  • WHITE STURGEON (Acipenser transmontanus)
    • Size: Can grow up to 20 feet in length and weigh over 1,500 pounds.
    • Description: The ancient and majestic White Sturgeon holds the distinction of being the largest freshwater fish in North America. Its slow growth rate and longevity contribute to its significance.
    • Unique Fact: White Sturgeons are known for their distinctive appearance, featuring bony plates on their bodies called scutes, and their ability to live for over a century.


  • WHITE SUCKER FISH (Catostomus commersonii)
    • Size: Typically 12 to 20 inches long, with a weight of about 1 to 2 pounds.
    • Description: The White Sucker Fish plays a vital role in the river’s ecosystem by feeding on algae and detritus, contributing to water quality.
    • Unique Fact: White Suckers have specialized mouthparts adapted for scraping algae and other organic matter off rocks and submerged surfaces.


  • YELLOW BULLHEAD CATFISH (Ameiurus natalis)
    • Size: Generally 10 to 15 inches in length, with a weight around 1 to 2 pounds.
    • Description: The Yellow Bullhead Catfish is a bottom-dwelling species, recognized by its barbels and olive-yellow coloration.
    • Unique Fact: Yellow Bullhead Catfish are known for their exceptional sense of smell, which they use to locate food in murky waters.


  • YELLOW PERCH (Perca flavescens)
    • Size: Typically 4 to 10 inches in length and weighing around 2 to 4 ounces.
    • Description: The Yellow Perch, with its distinctive yellow coloring and dark bands, is a popular sport fish known for its feisty nature.
    • Unique Fact: Yellow Perch have a remarkable ability to change color based on their surroundings and mood, making them masters of camouflage.


As you explore these profiles, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the diverse array of fish that call the Columbia River home. Each species contributes to the river’s complex ecosystem, showcasing the delicate balance of nature. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness some of these fascinating fish up close in our live fish tank exhibit at the REACH Museum.