Pink Salmon
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • There are 95-224 pyloric caecae
  • There are 24-35 gill rakers.
  • There are 13-19 principal anal rays and few or no spots.
  • The flank shows large oval dark spots on a light background; notice that there are no red spots; there are 147-205 lateral line scales.
  • The head region shows large oval dark spots on a light background, the spots are nearly as large as the pupil.
  • The tail shows large oval spots throughout, arranged in rows along the rays.
  • There are 10-15 principal dorsal rays, the fin has few or no spots.
  • Close-up of underside of head: There are usually 9-15 branchiostegal rays on each side.
  • Close-up inside of mouth of a breeder: The tongue and the tip of the jaw of this breeder are black, the gums are white.
  • Close-up inside of mouth: The vomerine teeth on the middle of the roof of the mouth are well-developed.
  • Side view of a breeding male: This male has a dark olive body, large spots, a curved snout, and a hump in front of the dorsal fin.
  • Close-up head of a breeding male: The snout is slightly up-curved and the upper jaw is hooked.
  • Side view of a breeding female: Notice the dark olive body and the large spots, but the lack of a curved snout or a hump as in males.
  • Side view of a breeding male: This male has a dark olive body, large spots, a curved snout, and a hump in front of the dorsal fin.
  • Side view of a breeding male: Notice the dark olive body, the large spots, the curved snout, and the hump in front of the dorsal fin.
  • Close-up head of a breeding male: Notice that the snout is slightly up-curved.
  • Close-up flank of a breeding male: The flanks are dark olive and the belly has a cream color.
  • Side view of a breeding male: This male has a dark olive body, large spots, a curved snout, and a hump in front of the dorsal fin.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: Juveniles lack parr marks and spots, and have a solid silvery color.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: Juveniles lack parr marks and spots, and have a solid silvery color.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: Juveniles lack parr marks and spots, and have a solid silvery color.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: Juveniles lack parr marks and spots, and have a solid silvery color.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Trouts (Salmonidae)
Body
Mouth and snout: Terminal, large and slightly oblique, with numerous small to medium-sized teeth on the upper and lower jaws. No barbels. Body patterning, color, and scales: Spots on side (young-of-year lack spots and parr marks and have a solid color). Background body color silvery, silver-blue, or light olive, grading to cream on belly. Spots dark brown or black; round, irregular, or oval in shape, some nearly as large as the pupil of the eye. 147-205 cycloid lateral line scales. Dorsal and tail fins tan, gray, or dark olive; dorsal usually lacks spots, but tail with conspicuous rows of large oval spots along rays. Pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins tan, gray, or dark olive, usually not spotted. Adipose fin not edged in red or orange. Body shape and size: Body fusiform; oval in cross section. In Great Lakes, typically 300-500 mm (12-20 in) TL; maximum about 600 mm (24 in).
Fins
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Slightly forked to square tail. Single dorsal fin with no spines and 10-15 principal rays. Pelvic fins abdominal with axillary process. Adipose fin present. Anal fin with 13-19 principal rays.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The pink salmon can be most easily distinguished by its pattern of dark spots on a light background (or a wholly silvery background without spots). See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Males develop a hooked upper jaw and distinctive humped back behind the head and in front of the dorsal fin. The body and fins of both sexes become darker (bronze, brown, or dark gray) with pronounced spots during spawning.
Juveniles
Do not have parr marks. Spots essentially absent in young-of-year fish, giving it a silvery or light olive solid color.
Hybrids
Chinook salmon X pink salmon, 1 report from Wisconsin (no photos).
Compare Similar Species
Spots Characteristics
Salmon, AtlanticUsually few, covering upper sides; black & sometimes red present; nearly as large as pupil of eye; round, irregular ovals, or “X” shaped
Salmon, ChinookModerate to numerous, limited to upper half of sides; black only; much smaller than pupil of eye; round or irregular in shape
Salmon, CohoUsually few, and limited to back and upper sides; black only; much smaller than pupil of eye; round or irregular in shape
Salmon, KokaneeAlmost none, limited to upper back; black only; much smaller than pupil of eye; round to slightly oval in shape
Salmon, PinkNumerous and on both lobes, forming lines of elongated oval spots along rays
Trout, BrookModerate to numerous; covering sides; cream, light, olive, yellow, red, sometimes with bluish halo; much smaller than pupil of eye; round
Trout, BrownFew to many, covering most of sides; both black and red present; nearly as large as pupil of eye; round or irregular ovals in shape
Trout, LakeMany; covering sides; cream to light olive; much smaller than pupil of eye; irregular shape, much smaller than pupil of eye
Trout, RainbowMany, covering most of sides; black only; much smaller than pupil of eye; round or irregular in shape
Tail Spots
Salmon, AtlanticFew or none, usually limited to base of tail
Salmon, ChinookModerate to numerous and on both lobes
Salmon, CohoFew, limited to top of upper lobe
Salmon, KokaneeNone
Salmon, PinkNumerous and on both lobes, forming lines of elongated oval spots along rays
Trout, BrookFew and lighter
Trout, BrownFew or none, usually limited to base of tail
Trout, LakeNumerous and on both lobes
Trout, RainbowNumerous and on both lobes
Principal Anal Rays
Salmon, Atlantic7-12, usually 9-11
Salmon, Chinook14-19
Salmon, Coho12-17, 1st ray elongated; fin distinctly falcate in YOY
Salmon, Kokanee11-16, usually 13-14
Salmon, Pink13-19
Trout, Brook7-13, usually 9
Trout, Brown8-12, usually 9-11
Trout, Lake8-10
Trout, Rainbow8-12
Lateral Line Scales
Salmon, Atlantic109-121
Salmon, Chinook130-165
Salmon, Coho112-148
Salmon, Kokanee121-150
Salmon, Pink147-205
Trout, Brook210-244
Trout, Brown120-130
Trout, Lake185-210
Trout, Rainbow100-150
Inside of Mouth in Breeders
Salmon, AtlanticWhite
Salmon, ChinookBlack or dark gray
Salmon, CohoBlack or gray; gums white
Salmon, KokaneeDark gray with white mottling
Salmon, PinkTongue and tip of jaw black or gray; gums white
Trout, BrookWhite on the teeth, tongue, and inside of mouth, but black on the gums
Trout, BrownWhite
Trout, LakeWhite
Trout, RainbowWhite
Other Features
Salmon, AtlanticBranchiostegal rays usually 11-12, principal dorsal rays 11-12, adipose fin not edged in red, pyloric caecae 40-74, gill rakers 15-20, vomerine teeth poorly developed, dorsal fin with few or no spots
Salmon, ChinookBranchiostegal rays usually 13-19, principal dorsal rays 10-14, adipose fin not edged in red, pyloric caecae 140-185, gill rakers 16-26, vomerine teeth well developed, dorsal fin spotted
Salmon, CohoBranchiostegal rays usually 11-15, principal dorsal rays 9-12, adipose fin not edged in red, pyloric caecae 45-114, gill rakers 18-25, vomerine teeth well developed, dorsal fin with few or no spots
Salmon, KokaneeBranchiostegal rays usually 13-14, principal dorsal rays 11-13, adipose fin not edged in red, pyloric caecae 50-87, gill rakers 29-43, vomerine teeth well developed, dorsal fin with few or no spots
Salmon, PinkBranchiostegal rays usually 9-15, principal dorsal rays 10-15, adipose fin not edged in red, pyloric caecae 95-224, gill rakers 24-35, vomerine teeth well developed, dorsal fin with few or no spots
Trout, BrookBranchiostegal rays usually 9-13, principal dorsal rays 10-14; adipose fin not edged in red, but dark margin in young; pyloric caecae 23-55; gill rakers 9-12; vomerine teeth well developed; dorsal fin spotted
Trout, BrownBranchiostegal rays usually 10, principal dorsal rays 9-11, adipose fin often edged in red, pyloric caecae 30-60, gill rakers 14-17, vomerine teeth well developed, dorsal fin spotted
Trout, LakeBranchiostegal rays usually 10-14, principal dorsal rays 8-10, adipose fin not edged in red, pyloric caecae 93-208, gill rakers 16-26, vomerine teeth well developed, dorsal fin spotted
Trout, RainbowBranchiostegal rays usually 9-13, principal dorsal rays 10-12, adipose fin not edged in red, pyloric caecae 27-80, gill rakers 16-22, vomerine teeth well developed, dorsal fin heavily spotted
Similarity Index
Salmon, AtlanticVery similar
Salmon, ChinookVery similar
Salmon, CohoVery similar
Salmon, KokaneeVery similar
Salmon, PinkN/A
Trout, BrookModerately similar
Trout, BrownVery similar
Trout, LakeModerately similar
Trout, RainbowVery similar
Comments
Salmon, AtlanticNot native; stocked in the past without estabishing a population. Occurs only in the Great Lakes as a rare stray from other states and Ontario.
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