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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • Overhead River Habitat (River Scout)

Range / Habitat

  • Rainbow trout is native to the Pacific Slope drainage from Alaska to upper Baja, Mexico, and also to the Arctic basin in northern Canada.
  • It is also native to the Eastern Pacific in the Kamchatka Peninsula.
  • In addition, the species has been widely introduced into cold-water habitats in North America and the rest of the world.
  • Rainbow trout is found in marine, fresh and brackish waters. It prefers cold headwaters, creeks, small to large rivers and lakes.
  • This trout is anadromous, which means it undertakes migrations between the ocean – where it lives of its adult life – and rivers where it spawns. The anadromous form is called a “steelhead.”

Physical Characteristics

  • The body of the rainbow trout is elongate and somewhat compressed in larger individuals.
  • Its coloration varies with habitat, size and sexual condition. Stream residents and spawners are darker with more intense colors. Lake residents are lighter, brighter and more silvery in color. 
  • The undersides tend to be silvery with a pinkish red stripe along the upper-middle part of the body. This stripe can vary in intensity.
  • The rainbow trout can reach a maximum size of about 47 inches (120 cm) and 56 lbs. (25.4 kg). More commonly it grows to about 24 inches (60 cm).

Diet / Feeding

  • This species feeds on a variety of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and small fishes.
  • At sea, it preys on fish and cephalopods.

Conservation Status

  • “Not Evaluated” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • This trout has been stocked in almost all types of water bodies with temperatures below about 77F (25C), except for ponds with low oxygen concentrations.
  • Anadromous and lake forms may migrate long distances to spawning streams.
  • This species may live up to 11 years.
  • Rainbow trout are cultured in many countries to stock rivers and lakes to attract recreational fishermen.
  • Several countries report adverse ecological impact after the introduction of rainbow trout.