Animalia > Chordata > Actinopterygii > Osmeriformes > Osmeridae > Osmerus > Osmerus mordax

Osmerus mordax (Rainbow smelt)

Synonyms: Atherina mordax; Osmerus eperlanus mordax; Osmerus mordax mordax

Wikipedia Abstract

The rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) is a species of fish of the family Osmeridae. Its distribution is circumpolar, and it has been introduced to the Great Lakes, and from there has made its way to various other places. Walleye, trout, and other larger fish prey on these smelt. The rainbow smelt prefer juvenile ciscoes, zooplankton such as calanoid copepods (Leptodiaptomus ashlandi, L. minutus, L. sicilis), and other small organisms, but are aggressive and will eat almost any fish they find. They are anadromous spring spawners and prefer clean streams with light flow and light siltation. The rainbow smelt face several barriers. They are weak swimmers and cannot overcome most fish ladders. This prevents them from making it past the dams to the headwater streams where they spawn. The rise in e
View Wikipedia Record: Osmerus mordax


Female Maturity [1]  2 years 6 months
Diet [2]  Carnivore
Adult Length [1]  14 inches (36 cm)
Brood Dispersal [1]  In the open
Brood Egg Substrate [1]  Litho-pelagophils
Brood Guarder [1]  No
Litter Size [1]  75,000
Maximum Longevity [1]  7 years
Migration [2]  Anadromous


Name Countries Ecozone Biome Species Report Climate Land
Central Prairie United States Nearctic Temperate Upland Rivers    
Chesapeake Bay United States Nearctic Temperate Coastal Rivers    
English - Winnipeg Lakes Canada, United States Nearctic Large Lakes    
Laurentian Great Lakes Canada, United States Nearctic Large Lakes    
Lower Mississippi United States Nearctic Temperate Floodplain River and Wetlands    
Middle Missouri United States Nearctic Temperate Floodplain River and Wetlands    
Northeast US & Southeast Canada Atlantic Drainages Canada, United States Nearctic Temperate Coastal Rivers    
Teays - Old Ohio United States Nearctic Temperate Upland Rivers    
Upper Mississippi United States Nearctic Temperate Floodplain River and Wetlands    
Upper Missouri Canada, United States Nearctic Temperate Upland Rivers    

Protected Areas

Name IUCN Category Area acres Location Species Website Climate Land Use
Acadia National Park II 35996 Maine, United States
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Ib 12402936 Alaska, United States
Cape Breton Highlands National Park II 234333 Nova Scotia, Canada  
Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve 9859505 New York, Vermont, United States  
Fathom Five National Marine Park II   Ontario, Canada
Forillon National Park II 61010 Quebec, Canada  
Gros Morne National Park II 476632 Newfoundland, Canada
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore II 8272 Indiana, United States
Ivvavik National Park II 2382752 Yukon, Canada
Kouchibouguac National Park II 59161 New Brunswick, Canada
La Mauricie National Park II 131706 Quebec, Canada
Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve 293047 British Columbia, Canada  
Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve 470167 Ontario, Canada  
North Temperate Lakes LTER Site Long Term Ecological Research   Wisconsin, United States
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve II 137900 British Columbia, Canada
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore II 67888 Michigan, United States
Prince Edward Island National Park II   Prince Edward Island, Canada  
Pukaskwa National Park II 459860 Ontario, Canada
Saguenay - St. Lawrence Marine Park National Marine Conservation Area II 310822 Canada
Saint Croix International Historic Site   Maine, United States
Saint Lawrence Islands National Park II   Ontario, Canada
Sikhote-Alinskiy Biosphere Reserve 978001 Russia  
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore II 62563 Michigan, United States
Terra Nova National Park IV 125894 Newfoundland, Canada
Tuktut Nogait National Park II 5761538 Northwest Territories, Canada
Voyageurs National Park II 177960 Minnesota, United States
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve Ib 2476446 Alaska, United States


Prey / Diet

Alosa pseudoharengus (kyack)[3]
Amnicola limosus (mud amnicola)[4]
Arctozenus risso (Spotted barracudina)[3]
Bythotrephes longimanus (spiny waterflea)[4]
Daphnia galeata (waterflea)[4]
Diacyclops bicuspidatus[4]
Diporeia hoyi (amphipod)[4]
Lamprops korroensis[3]
Leptodiaptomus sicilis[4]
Mysis relicta (opossum shrimp)[4]
Paramysis kessleri[3]
Sergentia coracina (chironomid)[4]

Prey / Diet Overlap

Competing SpeciesCommon Prey Count
Alosa pseudoharengus (kyack)8
Bythotrephes longimanus (spiny waterflea)3
Coregonus albula (European whitefish)1
Coregonus clupeaformis (Common whitefish)5
Coregonus hoyi (Bloater)8
Coregonus zenithicus (Longjaw cisco)1
Cottus cognatus (Anadyr sculpin)8
Gasterosteus aculeatus (Alaskan stickleback)1
Lepomis gibbosus (kiver)1
Lota lota (Thin-tailed burbot)1
Myoxocephalus quadricornis (Alaska fourhorn sculpin)8
Neogobius melanostomus (Round goby)1
Oncorhynchus mykiss (redband trout)4
Osmerus eperlanus (European smelt)2
Perca flavescens (Yellow perch)8
Salvelinus alpinus (Arctic charr)1
Sander vitreus (Walleye)4


Coregonus autumnalis (Arctic cisco)[3]
Gadus chalcogrammus (Whiting)[3]
Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Bald Eagle)[3]
Hippoglossus stenolepis (Pacific halibut)[3]
Hypanus say (Say's stingray)[3]
Illex illecebrosus (northern shortfin squid)[5]
Lagenorhynchus acutus (Atlantic White-sided Dolphin)[6]
Lethenteron camtschaticum (Arctic lamprey)[3]
Lota lota (Thin-tailed burbot)[4]
Micropterus dolomieu (Smallmouth bass)[4]
Morone americana (Wreckfish)[3]
Morone saxatilis (Striper bass)[3]
Morus bassanus (Northern Gannet)[3]
Myoxocephalus jaok (Plain sculpin)[3]
Oncorhynchus kisutch (coho salmon or silver salmon)[4]
Oncorhynchus mykiss (redband trout)[4]
Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (chinook salmon or king salmon)[4]
Parahucho perryi (Stringfish)[3]
Phocoena phocoena (Harbor Porpoise)[7]
Salmo trutta (Brown trout)[4]
Salvelinus namaycush (American lake char)[4]
Sander vitreus (Walleye)[4]
Stenodus leucichthys (Sheefish)[3]


Parasitized by 
Acanthocephalus dirus[8]
Anisakis simplex[8]
Ascarophis arctica <Unverified Name>[8]
Brachyphallus crenatus[8]
Contracaecum osculatum[8]
Corynosoma strumosum[8]
Corynosoma wegeneri[8]
Cryptocotyle lingua[8]
Cyathocephalus truncatus[8]
Cystidicola farionis <Unverified Name>[8]
Derogenes varicus[8]
Dibothriocephalus dendriticus[8]
Diphyllobothrium hottai[8]
Diphyllobothrium plerocercoid <Unverified Name>[8]
Diphyllobothrium sebago <Unverified Name>[8]
Diplostomum flexicaudum[8]
Diplostomum huronense[8]
Diplostomum spathaceum[8]
Echinorhynchus gadi[8]
Echinorhynchus lateralis[8]
Echinorhynchus salmonis[8]
Grillotia erinaceus[8]
Ichthyocotylurus erraticus[8]
Lecithaster gibbosus[8]
Leptorhynchoides thecatus[8]
Neoechinorhynchus pungitius[8]
Neoechinorhynchus rutili[8]
Neoechinorhynchus tumidus[8]
Pomphorhynchus bulbocolli[8]
Proteocephalus spasskii <Unverified Name>[8]
Proteocephalus tetrastomus[8]
Pseudoterranova decipiens[8]
Scolex pleuronectis <Unverified Name>[8]
Spinitectus gracilis <Unverified Name>[8]
Tetracotyle intermedia <Unverified Name>[8]

Range Map

America, North - Inland waters; Arctic Ocean; Atlantic Ocean; Atlantic, Northeast; Atlantic, Northwest; Canada; Nearctic; North Atlantic: Lake Melville, Labrador, Canada to Delaware River, Pennsylvania, (maybe to Virginia), and inland along Saint Lawrence River to Lake Superior. Northwest Pacific: off Russia (Ref. 26334).; Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf; Pacific, Northwest; Russian Federation; Sea of Japan; St. Lawrence; USA (contiguous states);



Attributes / relations provided by
1Frimpong, E.A., and P. L. Angermeier. 2009. FishTraits: a database of ecological and life-history traits of freshwater fishes of the United States. Fisheries 34:487-495.
2Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2006. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed February 01, 2010 at
3Jorrit H. Poelen, James D. Simons and Chris J. Mungall. (2014). Global Biotic Interactions: An open infrastructure to share and analyze species-interaction datasets. Ecological Informatics.
4NOAA, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
5CephBase - Cephalopod (Octopus, Squid, Cuttlefish and Nautilus) Database
6Food habits of Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) off the coast of New England, James E. Craddock, Pamela T. Polloni, Brett Hayward, Frederick Wenzel, Fish. Bull. 107:384–394 (2009)
7THE DIET OF HARBOUR PORPOISE (PHOCOENA PHOCOENA) IN THE NORTHEAST ATLANTIC, M. B. SANTOS & G. J. PIERCE, Oceanography and Marine Biology: an Annual Review 2003, 41, 355–390
8Gibson, D. I., Bray, R. A., & Harris, E. A. (Compilers) (2005). Host-Parasite Database of the Natural History Museum, London
Ecoregions provided by World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF). WildFinder: Online database of species distributions, ver. 01.06 WWF WildFINDER
Images provided by Google Image Search
Abstract provided by DBpedia licensed under a Creative Commons License
Weather provided by NOAA METAR Data Access