Species Finder Species Posted Mar 14, 2000 Char Species Identification The term 'char' (Salvelinus) describes a wide variety of subspecies that belong to the greater Salmonidae family. They are closely related to trout, and indeed are often lumped together as the same set of species. For example, despite their monikers, lake trout, brook trout, and bull trout are actually part of the char family and are not true trout like brown or rainbow trout. Most commonly for anglers, especially in the north, the use of the word char is set aside for the "Arctic char." For that reason the rest of this section will deal with the Arctic char exclusively. Appearance Like other species in the Salmonidae family, the color of an Arctic char differs between spawning and non-spawning season. Furthermore, physical characteristics differ drastically based on the environment around it. Typically, Arctic char are dark along the back (greenish-brown) and a more silvery color along the sides and underbelly during non-spawning seasons. Sparse amounts of spots adorn the sides of the body, generally a brighter silver color but they can also take on a pinkish-red hue depending on the region. During the spawn the underbelly changes to an orange, pink, and even gold-colored appearance, though never approaching the bright reds commonly seen with the Dolly Varden. The lower body fins are orange with a white edge. Maximum Size Can be over 30 pounds in certain parts of the world, but often no more than a few pounds in smaller landlocked lakes. Geographic Range Found throughout the northern polar region of the world in both lakes and along the ocean coastline, going as far south as the St. Lawrence region in North America. No other freshwater fish is found as far north as the Arctic char, ranging as far as Lake Hazen on Ellesmere Island, the northernmost island in Canada. The fish has been introduced in many North American lakes with colder climates. Habitat Prefer coastal streams and rivers of colder temperatures. Ocean-running Arctic char do not range too far inland, preferring to be closer to the sea. Life Span 15-20 years. Food Insects, zooplankton, mollusks, and other small fish. Reaches Reproductive Maturity Between 6-9 years of age. Spawning Arctic Char spawn every 1-2 years over gravel shoals. Spawning occurs anytime between August and October, depending on the region. Eggs take up to two months to hatch. Predators Other fish (including larger Arctic Char) and birds. Information credit: Alaska Department of Fish and Game.