Common names in English
American brook trout. Common (eastern) brook trout.
Brook char(r). Brookie. Speckled trout. Eastern speckled trout.
Speckled char(r). Aurora trout. Sea trout. Breac. Mountain trout.
Mud trout. Lord-fish. Humpbacked trout. Squaretail. Whitefin.
Though commonly called a trout, the brook trout is
actually a char, along with lake trout,
bull trout, Dolly Varden and Arctic char. This is why Europeans often
have difficulties with the native North American species because many
are named as trout while they actually are char.
Names in other languages
French: Omble de fontaine. Saumon de fontaine. Truite mouchetée.
German: Amerikanischer Bachsaibling. Bachsaibling.
Inuit: Aanak. Ana. Âna. Aanaatlik. Anakleq. Anokik. Anuk. Iqaluk, Iqaluk
Italian: Salmerino di Torrente.
Latvian: Avota palija.
Lithuanian: Amerikine palija.
Polish: Pstrag zródlany.
Russian: Amerikanskiy golets. Amerikanski goletz.
Spanish: Salvelino. Trucha de arroyo.
Swedish: Amerikansk bäckröding. Bäckröding. Källax.
Eastern North America: much of Canada, from Newfoundland to the western
side of Hudson Bay and in the United States, south through Massachusetts
and along the Appalachians, and west to Minnesota.
Salvelinus fontinalis requires an undisturbed environment, and can
accordingly serve as a sensitive indicator of water pollution and oxygen
depletion. Brook trout avoids cloudy and muddy water with low levels of
oxygen. The species has become relatively tolerant of low pH, and adults
can withstand pH levels as low as 5.0, but are unable to cope if the
water becomes more acidic than that.
The brook trout often lives alone clear, well-oxygenated rivers and
small streams with temperatures around 10-18 degrees Celsius. In lakes
they live together with several other fish species. They frequently swim
in shallow water along the shoreline, but also can be found at greater
depths as well. Brook trout are sometimes found in small ponds and
In North America, the brook trout shows considerable ecological
similarities to the brown trout in Europe, spending its early years in
tributary streams before becoming a lake dwelling predator, often
feeding on Arctic char. In spring, brook trout may migrate between fresh
waters and the sea, spending a short time (at most around three months)
in the marine environment. These migrations are limited, however: the
fish stay relatively close to river mouths, venturing no more than a few
kilometres out to sea. Brook trout may run to the sea to avoid streams
and rivers in which the water has become too warm, or because conditions
have become unfavourable due to competition and shortage of food. In
some cases, they overwinter in estuaries and migrate along the coast.
Migrations do not involve all the fish in a population, nor do they
occur every year. Brook trout that do migrate, however, usually grow
larger and live longer than strictly freshwater individuals. Brook trout
feed on insects, worms, molluscs, crustaceans, amphibians and fish.
Size and appearance
Adult brook trout living in fresh waters are green to dark brown, almost
black, on their back and sides. The back and upper sides have yellow and
yellowish green worm-like markings or marbling. The lower part of the
back has small yellow or yellowish green and/or red spots. The dorsal
and caudal fins are a darker brownish green, while the other fins are
reddish brown, often with a white and black border on the leading edge.
During the spawning period, the colours are intensified, the belly of
the male turning a characteristic deep orange-red.
Brook trout sometimes migrate to the sea and remain there for a time
before returning to fresh waters. Such fish are popularly known as “salters”.
Adults in a saltwater environment have silvery sides, a dark blue or
green back and a whitish belly. They may have pale red spots on the
sides and on the white borders of their fins. On returning to fresh
waters, they regain their earlier colours.Unlike Arctic char and lake
trout (Salvelinus namaycush), brook trout rarely live for more than 9–10
years. Adults can grow to a length of about 80 cm, but usually reach
just 30–45 cm. In Swedish waters, adult brook trout generally weigh just
under 1 kg, although in fish farms they can reach a weight of 2–3 kg. In
their native range, brook trout can be considerably larger, with a
reported maximum weight of over 9 kg.
Hybrids are fertile, which means that they are able to reproduce in the
wild. This is true, for example, of “sparctic char” (also known as
“sparctic trout” or “spar”, a cross between brook trout + Arctic char)
and “splake” (brook trout + lake trout). The name splake comes from
speckled trout + lake trout. This hybrid is also known as wendigo. The
fact that sparctic char, splake, and the third hybrid combination,
“larctic char” (a cross between lake trout and Arctic char), are able to
reproduce naturally shows that Salvelinus species may be involved in the
active formation of new species. American studies have found that splake
grow faster than brook trout, live longer, and often feed on fish
(including pike) that could otherwise pose a threat to brook trout.
Arctic char (Salvelinus
Lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush)
Igloo Lake Lodge
and Ina Stevens