Minnesota State Fair aquarium features St. Croix fish

Renovated fish tanks highlight the diversity of habitat and fish species in the river.




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St. Croix River fish tank at the Minnesota State Fair, photo courtesy MN DNR
St. Croix River fish tank at the Minnesota State Fair, photo courtesy MN DNR

New aquariums at the Minnesota State Fair will put St. Croix River fish in the spotlight.

The exhibit in the Department of Natural Resources’ popular building includes five fish tanks illustrating “the habitat and fish found in different Minnesota waters: a southeastern trout stream, the St. Croix River, and lakes typical of central, southern and northern Minnesota.”

The St. Croix River tank will include the following fish species:

  • Spotted sucker
  • Walleye
  • Sauger
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Flathead catfish
  • Channel catfish
  • Redhorse (sucker species)
  • Bigmouth and smallmouth buffalo
  • Quillback and carpsucker
  • American eel
  • Lake sturgeon
  • Shovelnose sturgeon
  • Gar
  • White bass

T.J. Debates, East Metro Fisheries Supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, explained that the St. Croix is getting the spotlight because it “represents large rivers habitats in the state of Minnesota and their diversity in habitat and fish species.”

According to the Star Tribune, the new aquariums replace tanks which had been there since the 1960s, and were yellowed and scratched:

The DNR has replaced the 17 small, almost-ancient indoor aquariums with five much larger tanks — one stretching 18 feet and two measuring 14 feet. Each will show fish in their simulated native habitat: trout in a southeastern Minnesota stream, fish from the St. Croix River, and fish from central, southern and northern Minnesota lakes.

“Rather than just seeing individual fish species in a tank, they’ll see fish living together in their habitat,” said T.J. DeBates, DNR east metro fisheries supervisor. “It’s awesome.”

The St. Croix River tank, for example, will display a variety of habitats, from sand and muck to rock and woody debris. It will have game fish such as walleyes, catfish, sauger, muskies and bass, as well as nongame species such as suckers, gizzard shad and various minnows.

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The DNR’s Debates said in a press release, “By focusing on fish communities and their habitat, we hope people will gain a better understanding of how good angling depends on healthy ecosystems.”


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Minnesota State Fair aquarium features St. Croix fish