Species At Risk

Shortnose Cisco

(Coregonus reighardi)


Shortnose Cisco
Shortnose Cisco occurrences map


The Shortnose Cisco is a member of the whitefish family. It has a short head and snout, small eyes, and a tiny mouth. All of the fins are small compared to its somewhat stocky body, which usually grows to a length of 25 centimetres. It has a yellow-green back, silver sides, and a white belly. The shortnose can be distinguished from other cisco fish species by dark markings on the snout.


The Shortnose Cisco is found only in the Great Lakes of North America. It was last seen in Lake Ontario in 1964 and in Lake Huron in 1985.


In Ontario, the Shortnose Cisco lives in the deep, cold water of the Great Lakes, usually at depths between 22 to 110 metres . It has been found at depths reaching 144 metres! This species eats mostly freshwater shrimp.


Ontario’s Shortnose Cisco population was greatly reduced by overfishing and possibly by competition or predation by exotic (non-native) species.


The Shortnose Cisco is protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

What You Can Do to Help the Shortnose Cisco

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Shortnose Cisco. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Invasive species seriously threaten many of Ontario’s species at risk. To learn what you can do to help reduce the threat of invasive species, visit: ontario.ca/invasivespecies ; www.invadingspecies.com;www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca ; and, www.invasivespecies.gc.ca.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species at risk recovery.You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.

Did you know?

The Shortnose Cisco, also called chub, was once commercially fished in the Great Lakes. In the late 1800s it was the main fish caught by Toronto fishing boats. By the 1930s this species was seldom caught and by the 1980s it had nearly disappeared.

Did you know?

When the Shortnose Cisco was more common, it was probably an important food source for predators such as lake trout and burbot.

Did you know?

Shortnose Cisco is very difficult to distinguish from the other six species of ciscoes found in the Great Lakes, and experts often rely on the number and shape of the gill rakers (small bones along the gills) to help identify the species.

Did you know?

Female Shortnose Ciscos have a longer lifespan than males, and can live up to 11 years.

Did you know?

The Shortnose Cisco has not been reliably reported since 1985 and may be extinct.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.