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Walleye (Sander vitreus)

Sander vitreus
(Order Perciformes, Family Percidae)

Sander vitreus.  Image from

Diagnosis: Sander vitreus  are golden colored with five dark saddles that straddle the ventral side. The belly is white. They have a large mouth with many teeth. Some of its fins have spins and the gill plate is sharp. They can weigh up to 11 kg (20 lbs) and are about 91 cm.

Natural History: Walleye are a freshwater fish. It takes 5 years for female to reach sexual maturity and 3 to 4 for males. Spawning occurs in cold months.

Distribution: Walleye are native to the Great Lakes, and the Artic and Mississippi river basins. Breeding programs and stocking have spread them out over other parts of the US.

Map from


Habitat: Walleye prefer cold water, going into the deeper parts of the lake in order to find sutiable habitat.

Diet: Walleye are top predators in the food chain eating any smaller fish.

Species Status: Stable in native areas; most stocked areas are either stable or are maintained by breeding programs.

Video: Walleye, zander, snoekbaars in aquarium eating







Johnston, T. A., Lysack, W., and Legget, W. C. "Abundance, growth, and life history characteristics of sympatric walleye (Sander vitreus) and sauger (Sander canadensis) in Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba." Journal of Great Lakes Research. 38:3. 2012. 36-46.

Johnston, T. A., Wong, D. M., Moles, M. D., et al. "Reproductive allocation in exploited lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) and walleye (Sander vitreus) populations." Fisheries Research. 125. 2012. 225-234.

Purchase, C. F., Hutchings, J. A., and Morgan, G. E. "The biological and statistical significance of life-history invariants in walleye (Sander vitreus)." Evolutionary Ecology Research. 8:2. 2006. 295-308.

Submitted by: Corinne Juju Wellemeyer, July 2013

Wichita State University
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