Round Whitefish (Coregonus cylindraceum)
The round whitefish has slightly more color than other whitefishes. The back is almost bronze, with silvery sides and white underside. The scales have dark borders. Pectoral fins are amber; pelvic and anal fins also have a slight amber tint. The adipose fin is usually brown spotted. This fish has a small head and is almost round in cross-section. It is slender and elongate, usually about 8-12 inches weighing about 1/2 pound or less; specimens of over 20 inches and several pounds have been reported.
In New York, round whitefish are uncommon and sparse, distributed in Lake Champlain and other Adirondack lakes where they are often referred to as frostfish.
Like other whitefish, round whitefish spawn in the fall. They spawn in gravelly shallows of lakes, at tributary mouths, or occasionally in tributary streams. These fish spawn in pairs, rather than in large spawning schools like the cisco. Females release from about 2,000 to 12,000 eggs, which are abandoned after spawning. Young hatch early in the spring.
The round whitefish frequents water less than 120-150 feet deep. This bottom feeder eats a wide selection of insect larvae, small mollusks, and crustaceans, as well as fish eggs. Their eggs, in turn, are eaten by other bottom feeders (bullheads, white suckers), and the fish themselves are eaten by lake trout. It is of no commercial importance and not often caught by sport fishermen, although it is highly regarded as a food fish by many who have eaten it.
Distribution of round whitfish in NY state. Dark dots represent locations from which round whitefish have been collected. White dots represent historic distributions.
An image of the round whitefish is also available for download.