1. What Is A Rainbow Trout?
A rainbow trout is a cold-water fish found in the freshwater streams and lakes in the entire Northern Hemisphere in North America and Asia. Rainbow trouts living in different regions have different colors and have acquired different names such as rainbow, bow, steelhead, silver, and Kamloops trout.
Rainbow Trout Characteristics
Rainbow trouts are about 16 to 30 inches long and weigh between 2 and 16 pounds. They have an elongated and compressed body ending with a squared tail. They have different colors among fishes in different regions. All trouts have a maximum of 12 anal finned rays. They usually have a dark back with shades which are either steel blue or green to brown in color. Their cheeks and sides are silver in color and with a red or pink stripe that runs through their lateral sides, all along or a part of the body. They have a silver-white belly and speckled with dark spots on their back of the body. Rainbow trouts usually change their color during spawning periods.
Rainbow Trout Food
Rainbow trouts are strict carnivores and feed on other fishes, crabs, shrimps, lobsters, and small trouts as well. Young trouts feed on insects, worms crabs, shrimps, and lobsters. Rainbow trouts can travel to long distances in search of food. When food s scarce, they can feed on insect larvae, fish eggs, and pupae.
Rainbow Trout Habitat
Rainbow trouts are cold-water fishes that live in freshwater, creeks, lakes, small and large rivers, estuaries and oceans. They can collectively use some or all these habitats, which has water which is clear, clean and cold. It has great ability to swim up and down the streams which enable them to sustain in a wide variety of habitats, migrate to long distances for food and spawning.
Rainbow Trout Sustainability
They have the ability to thrive in hatcheries which enabled them to be introduced in many streams and lakes across the US. It also has great popularity as a recreational sport fish among the anglers. However, the change of vegetation, soil erosion, man-made constructions like dams, roads cause obstruction for rainbow trouts to swim up and downstream, which has led to a significant drop in their numbers.
2. Are Rainbow Trout And Steelhead The Same Species?
Rainbow trouts and steelheads are of the same species of trout. They both are ray-finned fish from the Salmon family, but they have a different style of living. Rainbow trouts mostly spend their entire part of life in freshwater, while a steelhead mostly lives in the seas and oceans and move into rivers for breeding. Due to their varying lifestyles, rainbow trout and steelheads appear different in their size and colors. Rainbow trouts have multi-hued colors and dark spots on their backs while steelheads have a more streamlined body and have silver or brass color.
Steelhead spends its first two to three years in freshwater and then spend their next two to three years in oceans. Steelheads are typically larger in size than rainbow trouts.
Both rainbow trouts and steelhead are native to North America, but they are introduced in various states and continents to diversify their habitat and numbers. Both rainbow trout and steelhead spend varying tine in freshwater at some point in their life. They both use boulders, wood, aquatic vegetation as a protective cover.
3. Where Do Rainbow Trout Spawn?
Rainbow trout start their spawning during spring season every year. They usually travel upstream and select places with small and large gravel and use small substrates to construct its nest, called redd. Rainbow trouts redds are usually located in streams which have higher water velocity and with shallow waters. Their place of selection for spawning is not affected by water temperature or sunlight.
Rainbow trouts can breed between the ages of one and five. Males have the ability to mature faster than females. Rainbow trout spawns upstream and can travel quite a distance to find a suitable location and lays its eggs in redd. The female rainbow trout uses her tail, the digs a depression in the gravel to create the redd and lays her eggs in it, covers it with gravel using its fins. A male rainbow trout releases his sperms over these redds to fertilize the eggs. These eggs hatch after four to seven weeks to produce young trouts. These young hatched touts are called sac fry, and as they start growing, they develop dark vertical bars on their sides.
Unlike a salmon fish, a rainbow trout never dies after spawning. It returns to the freshwater and continues to spawn again in the next spawning season.
A rainbow trout is a versatile and widely available fish throughout the year. It is one of the top five sporting fish in North America for its attractive and vibrant color. It is also grown commercially in farms for food. Consuming a rainbow trout provides to you many vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, and nutrients to you. They are also rich sources of potassium for your body.
They are widely distributed and bred in artificial water bodies. As they are available in large numbers, they are not endangered nor become extinct in the near future. However, excessive fishing for recreation, man-made constructions, climatic changes are affecting the breeding and survival habitats of the rainbow trouts. There are few non-profit organizations like Trout Unlimited in North America which are dedicated to the conservation and development of rainbow trouts.