Rainbow Trout

ZOO LOCATION: Rocky Mountain Wild

Lifespan: Average 4-6 years in the wild.

Wild Diet: When young, insects make up a large portion of the diet, smaller fish, along with crayfish and other crustaceans make up the remainder.

Zoo Diet: Trout chow

Predators: Kingfishers, herons, and other fish are their greatest predators.


IUCN Status: Not Evaluated

Habitat/Range: Native only to the rivers and lakes of North America, west of the Rocky Mountains. Freshwater.

Characteristics: Rainbow trout, also called redband trout, are fish with coloring and patterns that vary widely depend on habitat, age, and spawning condition. They are torpedo-shaped and generally blue-green or yellow-green in color with a pink streak along their sides, white underbelly, and small black spots on their back and fins. They average about 20 to 30 inches (51 to 76 centimeters) long and around 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms), but can grow as long as 4 feet (1.2 meters) and weigh up to 53 pounds (24 kg).

Behavior: They prefer cool, clear rivers, streams, and lakes, though some will leave their freshwater homes and follow a river out to the sea. These migratory adults, called steelheads because they acquire more silvery markings, will spend several years in the ocean, but must return to the stream of their birth to spawn.

Reproduction: Rainbow trout reproduction begins with spawning. Usually this begins at 3-4 years of age and occurs in the spring. However, through selective breeding, some trout spawn in fall and winter.

Conservation: Their populations are healthy worldwide and they have no special status or protections. However, they are now considered a non-native pest species in some areas where they have been introduced.