Cutthroat Trout “Oncorhynchus Clarkii”

cutthroat trout

Last updated on June 27th, 2022 at 07:46 pm

The cutthroat trout, also known as Oncorhynchus clarkii, is a fish with bright red-orange colors. The cutthroat trout has spots on its back that will help you identify it as part of this species. Cutthroats are found in cold water, and they are generally the first to spawn when rivers begin running again, following winter ice receding from them.

It’s a fish that lives in cold water. They are brownish-red with orange and red spots on their faces, backs, and sides from head to tail. Cutthroat trout have white bellies but some have black ones too. Their fins are dark gray or black. The lower half of the cutthroat trout is larger than the top.

Cutthroat trout is a freshwater fish that live in the rivers, streams, and lakes of North America. They have red eyes and pink-orange coloring on their bellies (unlike browns or blacks), which is why they’re called “cutthroat.” The species has been around for centuries as it was first documented by explorers to the Americas.

Origin and description

cutthroat trout

The cutthroat trout is a freshwater fish native to the western United States. It ranges from Alaska and Canada south through the Rocky Mountains into New Mexico, Arizona, California, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado in North America. The subspecies on this coast are classified as Pacific salmon ichthyologists (fish scientists) of which there are many, usually split into two schools of thought.

The first school deals with a single subspecies known as “the Southern Pacific cutthroat trout”. It is the only Colorado River basin population to be listed under the Endangered Species Act and it is federally designated as endangered in 1997. This area includes portions of northern California, southern Oregon, Nevada, southern Idaho, and eastern Utah.

The second school of thought is that there are two subspecies on the west coast: “the Southern Pacific cutthroat trout” and “the Northern California, Oregon coastal cutthroat trout”. The first group (Southern Pacific) lives in freshwater for all or part of its life while the second group (Northern California-Oregon coastal) lives in saltwater for all or part of its life.

All cutthroat trout have a red slash beneath the jaw, from which they get their name. They also tend to be smaller than other western North American trout ichthyologists fish scientists and usually do not grow much larger than 15 inches.

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Species profile

The cutthroat trout is a freshwater fish found in the Western hemisphere. They are native to North America and can be found throughout most of western Canada, as well as parts of the United States (especially Colorado). They live primarily in cold water streams but they may also inhabit lakes, reservoirs, and even large rivers at high altitudes.

Cutthroat trout are an important part of many North American ecosystems, as they provide food for other species and habitats for fish in the stream. They can live up to 30 years old but most die before reaching maturity due to competition from larger predators like brown trout or fishing by humans. There is debate over whether cutthroat trout are in fact a subspecies of rainbow trout, but they have been both bred and identified as separate species.

This fish is the official state fish for Montana, Colorado (as well as parts of New Mexico), and Wyoming. The cutthroat trout has also served as an inspiration to many artists over the years, appearing in numerous paintings, sculptures, and even in musical compositions by Claude Debussy.

Color and appearance

cutthroat trout

Cutthroat trout are a rainbow of colors, from red to brown and everything in between. They typically have black spots on their backs or sides. Their underside is lighter than the top, which gives them another way to hide when the water isn’t clear enough for camouflage.

Cutthroat trout habitat

Cutthroat trout are native to the western United States, found primarily in mountainous regions at high elevations. It is one of two subspecies that make up the rainbow trout family—the other being steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Cutthroats can be distinguished from their salmonid cousins by their deep red coloring and lack of spots on the dorsal side.

Cutthroat trout are a highly social fish, cooperating in large schools to bring down prey items like small mammals or insects which they feed by chasing them underwater until their victim submits from exhaustion. They have an impressive list of adaptations that make this possible such as sharp teeth with serrated edges, a large mouth with a wide gap, and velvety fins that allow them to travel quickly underwater.

They are not only fierce predators but also voracious scavengers when necessary. They will follow herds of elk or deer to feed on animals that have been wounded by the hunters’ shots or died from natural causes.

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Cutthroat trout size

Cutthroat trout can be found in many sizes. They are typically between one and three pounds, but they have been known to get as large as a five-pound fish. The average size is around two-and-a-half pounds for an adult cutthroat trout. It’s an indicator of poor water quality when there are larger than normal fish in a given area.

A larger than normal cutthroat trout can be a sign of low water levels, which is not good for the environment.

Cutthroat trout life cycle

Cutthroat trout are found in streams and lakes throughout much of the western United States. The average lifespan is three to five years but can extend up to ten without predation.

Spawning occurs between late spring and early summer when water temperatures reach around 15-17 degrees Celsius. Cutthroats typically spawn at 12 inches deep on gravel substrate or cobble and attach their eggs to the underside of rocks.

The young fry emerges from the gravel after about fifteen days and will stay in shallow waters until they are an inch long, at which point they migrate to deeper water such as lakes or rivers with a current. Once trout reach two inches, it is safe for them to move into slower-moving streams with a high water flow.

Cutthroats typically spawn at 12 inches deep on gravel substrate or cobble and attach their eggs to the underside of rocks.

The cutthroat trout is the only species of trout that spends its whole life in freshwater but can live up to ten years and spawn over four different times during the course of one year.

Are they peaceful or aggressive?

The cutthroat trout is an aggressive fish, and will often attack other species that may be in the same waters. They are also territorial and defend their territory against any intruders with a great deal of aggression. Attempts to catch them usually result in being attacked by the cutthroat trout unless they have taken flight or can get out of the way fast enough.

General care information

cutthroat trout

What they eat

Cutthroat trout are piscivores, meaning they feed on other fish. They can be found in chilly streams near large boulders with undercut banks that provide shelter for spawning and resting as well as access to plenty of food sources. Cutthroats will eat anything smaller than themselves but usually target juvenile steelhead or salmon while avoiding baitfish and cyprinids.

Tankmates for cutthroat trout

Cutthroats are often kept in the same tank as other fish, and it’s important to know their compatibility with others. Cutthroats can be aggressive, so choose tankmates wisely! Some of the best compatible species for cuttles include rainbow darters, blacknose shiners, banded sunfish, and other trout.

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Water condition

The water conditions that trout prefer can vary from situation to situation, but in general they like at least some amount of current. They also need clean and cool water.


Cutthroat trout are not sexually dimorphic, meaning that both male and female cutthroats look the same. However, males are slightly larger than females and they have enlarged teeth in their upper jaws. On average, males grow to be about fifteen inches long whereas females, only eight or ten inches. The difference between size is most likely because the males are more territorial and also because they take care of the eggs.

The cutthroat trout is a type of fish that lives in cold, freshwater environments across North America, from Alaska to Mexico. It has a distinctive red stripe on its face which gives it its nickname “cutthroat” some have said this is because they are aggressive and will fight each other for territory.


Cutthroat trout can live for up to 20 years, but usually around 12 or 13. This lifespan is similar to salmonids and may not seem as though it would be a lot of time in the grand scheme of things. However, this amount of time spent alive equates to an impressive number if one were able to see the fish before it dies.

Parasites and diseases

Cutthroat trout are not immune to parasites and diseases. The two most common afflictions that affect them are ichthyophthirius (freshwater) and salmonellosis (saltwater). These can cause “reddening of the gills, inflammation of the fins or skin sores” as well as “lack of appetite, lethargy, and weight loss.”

Predators (What Threatens Cutthroat Trout)

cutthroat trout

Cutthroat trout populations are threatened by the many predators they have to contend with. The brown bears, black bears, coyotes, and cougars that live in their habitat all hunt for cutthroat trout at some point during the year. Other threats include pollution caused by humans, which can affect water quality and lead to fish dying.

Cutthroat trout are also threatened by other animals such as birds and insects that eat them or their eggs, which can make it difficult for populations of cutthroat trout to increase in size. Fish farms have a major impact on the population too because they often introduce non-native species into waterways where they can compete with cutthroat trout for food and space.

The final threat to the population is climate change, which not only affects water quality but also changes the fish habitat in a way that makes it difficult for them to survive.

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Does it make good pets?

Cutthroat trout are not often kept as pets. They do eat the food in their tank and can be a lot of work to care for, but they will provide entertainment with their unique personality traits. Cutthroat trout have been known to show aggression when hungry or feeling threatened by another fish’s presence. In addition, cutthroats are very territorial and will fight with their own species to protect their territory.

There are many different types of fish that make great pets, so if you’re not interested in cutthroats, there’s a good chance one of the alternatives below might be more suitable for your situation.

What is the difference between cutthroat and rainbow trout?

cutthroat trout

The differences between cutthroat and rainbow trout are significant, ranging from habitat preference to size and behavior. Cutthroats were forced into the colder waters of North America while rainbow trouts can be found worldwide, but they’re not as common in cooler habitats as those occupied by their cousins, the cutthroat trouts.

Cutthroat trout are native to the west coast of North America. They have a red slash under their lower jaw and are usually brown in color with black spots or stripes. Rainbow trout, on the other hand, originates from Europe and Asia. They can be found worldwide but they were introduced to North America by European settlers around 1883 which explains their name.

Cutthroats tend to favor colder water while rainbows prefer warmer waters that have more oxygen content. Rainbow trout also grow larger than cutthroats on average, a full-grown rainbow can reach as large as 20 pounds while a full-grown cutthroat trout is usually around 3 to 4.

Although they look the same, rainbow and cutthroat trout are actually different species, separated for over 100 million years of evolution. There are slight physical differences between them but it’s mostly genetic. Cutthroats have more red in their coloring than rainbows.

A cutthroat’s jaw has teeth that can be seen when it opens its mouth, unlike a rainbow trout’s teeth that are hidden.

Why are they called cutthroat trout?

They are called cutthroat trout because they have a distinctive red-orange slash under their gill covers. When the fish is laid out on the table for gutting, this marking resembles a bloody wound and it was thought that these markings were from an animal’s teeth.

The name “cutthroat” has been used by anglers for centuries to describe these fish.