Fun Rainbow Trout Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Feb 08, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel
Know amazing facts about rainbow trout.

Do you want to know about one of the healthiest and highly consumed fish, the rainbow trout? A rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is a species of trout from the same family as the salmon.

A rainbow trout can be distinguished for its black spotting and shiny coloration on the body along with a red stripe from the gills to their tail along the lateral line. They were used heavily in fish games in the past and were referred to as fly fishing.

They were originally native to freshwater tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America.

There are two other subspecies called the steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus), an anadromous (sea-run) form, and the river redband trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri) which returns to fresh water after a few initial years in the saltwater. They are predatory and aggressive in nature.

The rainbow trout has been heavily farmed in various fisheries around the world. It’s easy to rear them as they are highly adaptive and can sustain through most environments. This makes them available very easily and for a cheaper price than salmon.

One pound of rainbow trout meat can cost somewhere around $6. But never consume it raw; they are easy to cook and don’t require much sauce or spices. To know more about these beautiful predatory fishes, keep reading.

If you like reading about different kinds of animals, please check out more similar on swai fish and drum fish. 

Rainbow Trout Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a rainbow trout?

A rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is fish belonging to the Salmonidae or Salmon family.

What class of animal does a rainbow trout belong to?

The rainbow trout belongs to the Actinopterygii class of fishes or trouts.

How many rainbow trout are there in the world?

The rainbow trout is a popular freshwater fish for consumption and so is heavily farmed all over the world. So their exact population cannot be specified. But the population of coastal rainbow trout and the freshwater rainbow trout in the wild is depleting fast due to pollution, fishing, and loss of natural habitat.

Where does a rainbow trout live?

The steelhead trout or the coastal rainbow trout are native to the Pacific. They live in the sea and swim to freshwater to lay eggs.

The wild rainbow trout lives in rivers, lakes, and streams.

Once native to California in North America, the North Pacific slope from the Kamchatka Peninsula to northeastern Russia, and the Pacific slope from Alaska to northern Mexico, they are now distributed in more than 85 countries due to extensive farming and demand. So, a lot of rainbow trouts are found spawning in reservoirs and tanks, and farmed in fisheries.

What is a rainbow trout's habitat?

Like all trout, rainbow trout are quite adaptive to several aquatic environments. They prefer cool rivers, lakes, and streams with a temperature of 50-60 F (10-16 C) approximately. They like gravel bottoms and natural covers like fallen trees or boulders. However, the rainbow trout is native to the sea and can easily adapt to saltwater as well.

Who does rainbow trout live with?

Trouts travel in groups during winter, but most adults are known to live in isolation, except during the spawning season in spring. A group of these fish is called a hover.

How long does a rainbow trout live?

In the wild, rainbow trout, like the golden rainbow trout, redband trout, and steelhead trout have an average lifespan of three to four years. Farmed rainbow trout live a little longer, approximately seven years. The oldest known rainbow trout was 11 years old.

How do they reproduce?

The spawning season of the rainbows, like the salmon, is spring, preferably May. Mating happens when the males and the females are laying side by side and releasing their sperm and laying eggs respectively at the same time.

The female rainbows spawn multiple times until all her eggs (about 400-3000 per batch) are released and males only spawn once for the entire year.

The mother fish covers the eggs with gravel but isn't very concerned about parental care for the eggs or the nest.

It takes about 20-80 days for the embryo to develop and hatch into alevins (free-swimming embryos within the yolk sac). The ideal condition for rainbow trout to spawn is in deep waters where the water temperature is above 41 F (5 C) or a Steelhead trout might not be able to spawn.

What is their conservation status?

Rainbow trout haven't been listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

However, it is an Endangered or Threatened species in its native habitat, as per Wikipedia's conservation status but also is not extinct due to its large distribution all over the world through extensive farming. The main reasons for its native population to decline in the wildlife are hybridization, pollution, loss of habitat, overfishing, diseases, and more.

The rainbow trout and its subspecies are under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency like Trout Unlimited (TU) currently, helping to restore their natural population.

Rainbow Trout Fun facts

What do rainbow trout look like?

Wild-caught rainbow trouts are healthier to consume.

Rainbow trout is a game fish native to the freshwater river tributaries of the Pacific Ocean along with Asia and North America. This trout varies in size, weight and coloration depending on its habitat and subspecies.

The riverine native species are usually blue-green or olive green with heavy black spots all over the body with a broad red stripe along the lateral line, and the anadromous species (sea-run) are more silvery with the red stripe hardly visible. They have a square caudal fin.

The anadromous steelhead trout are much bigger than their freshwater natives reaching up to 20 lb (9 kg). Juvenile rainbows showcase parr marks (dark vertical bars) which is common in most salmon family fish.

How cute are they?

The majestic rainbow trout can be considered cute, because of its beautiful multicolored scales. This rainbow display of color variation throughout their body makes them quite attractive and their black spots all over with a red stripe shining on the body catches everyone’s attention.

How do they communicate?

Trouts in general, communicate through pheromones with the opposite gender and use their lateral line system to detect their surroundings. But the rainbow trout is a visual predator species.

Even the fry after hatching compete for survival and the bigger fish dominates. They have a keen sense of sight to detect prey and they also use the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate through the sea-bed. The freshwater trout and the steelhead trout hardly communicate with each other.

How big is a rainbow trout?

The rainbow trout is one of the largest trout species. On average, a mature fish can be around 20-30 in (50.8-76.2 cm), with 42 in (106.7 cm) being the largest one ever recorded. Wild-caught rainbow trouts are much smaller than their close relatives, salmon.

How fast can a rainbow trout swim?

The estimated average swim speed of the rainbow trout is about 1.9 mph (3 kph) and their maximum swim speed is 6.1 mph (9.8 kph). They have a 95% confidence interval of 1.7-2 mph (2.7-3.2 kph).

The anadromous steelhead trout of the coastal rainbow trout have been recorded to swim at 23 mph (37 kph), making them the fastest trouts in the salmon family.

How much does a rainbow trout weigh?

The average weight of a rainbow trout fish is around 2-16 lb (0.9-7.3 kg), where the freshwater natives are smaller than the anadromous or the lake water species.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Fish, in general, don't have any specific term for its males and females and neither has the rainbow trout. But for rainbow trout, you can differentiate a male from its female by examining the mouth and the anal fin.

What would you call a baby rainbow trout?

A baby rainbow trout is called a ‘fry’, like all baby fish.

What do they eat?

The rainbow trout feeds primarily on invertebrate larvae, aquatic insects, fish eggs, and other small fish. These predator fish have a huge appetite but can be quite lazy at times. They tend to be stationary in a stream with their mouth wide open, swallowing the flowing larvae downstream.

Do humans eat them?

The rainbow trout belong to the salmon family and are highly consumed throughout the world by humans in more than 85 countries as a delicacy. They do taste very similar to salmons but are more flaky and delicate and don’t have a typical ‘fishy’ taste.

Their meat is fairly plain and has a mild nutty taste. Unlike salmons, you cannot use trouts for sushi as they can’t be eaten raw as they might contain harmful bacteria.

If cooked properly they can be one of the richest sources of omega 3 and fatty acids.

They are also quite sustainable, due to their low mercury content. The FDA remarked the rainbow trout as the ‘best choice’ as it is the healthiest fish for consumption.

Would they make a good pet?

The rainbow trout is originally a predator fish often praised by fly fishing enthusiasts for its use in sports. Though they are farmed heavily, their temperament isn’t of a tame nature.

The rainbow trout are quite aggressive in nature and have a keen sense to detect their prey. Thus even though they are beautiful, they can’t be expected to be a good pet in an aquarium as they might just eat up other small fishes in the tank.

Did you know...

Rainbow Trout can hold off fast currents more than any trout subspecies, they can also handle water riffles and heavy pocket waters.

Rainbow Trout offspring stay in their spawning habitat for their initial two to three years before they migrate to a larger stream, lake, or river tributaries.

What was the biggest rainbow trout ever caught?

The world record for the largest rainbow trout was set by the Canadian fisher Sean Konrad. According to The International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA) record book, the biggest rainbow trout ever caught was 42 in (106.7 cm) long and weighed around 48 lb (21.8 kg).

Why is it called rainbow trout?

The rainbow trout was a kind of North American game fish that derived its name from the beautiful spectrum of coloration of blue-green, olive-green, goldish to the silver underside that fades into pearl white and the red stipe that shines on its body. Most rainbow trouts also display small black spots all over.

This is why they are known as the rainbow trout.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including bonito fish and toadfish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our rainbow trout jumping out of water coloring pages

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel

Bachelor of Business Management

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Yashvee PatelBachelor of Business Management

Yashvee has won awards for both her writing and badminton skills. She holds a business administration honors degree and has previously interned with social media clients and worked on content for an international student festival. Yashvee has excelled in academic competitions, ranking in the top 100 in the Unified International English Olympiad and placing second in an essay-writing competition. Additionally, she has won the inter-school singles badminton title for two consecutive years.

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