Peering through the water we see a swarm of orange goldfish in the downtown Indianapolis Canal.
Where do Canal Fish come from?

Those of us who enjoy fine summer days in Indianapolis to walk along the canal are familiar with the vibrant fish that swim in those waters. We catch glimpses of them clustered together in the shadow of the bridges and we enjoy seeing them there. But how do these decorative koi and goldfish find their way into our canal?

Fortunately for curious you, curious us has done some research and discovered the answer: No one officially knows. Neither the city nor the White River State Park, who manages the Canal, take any responsibility for the fish. “We do not stock the canal with any fish nor do we try to keep track of what’s in there,” says Justin Goss, Operations Manager at White River State Park. The fish, apparently, simply appear. Rumor has it that visitors come and discard pet fish they don’t want any more or perhaps birds unknowingly transport fish eggs. However they did it, they did it well. When the Canal was drained and cleaned in 2008, nearly 9,000 fish were relocated for the four month project. Again, the city had no intention to stock the canal when the cleaning was over, but the same day they refilled the canal there were fish in the water. “People from around the city would like to see fish in there, I guess, because they keep putting them in there,” says Goss.

Here are a few kinds of a fish to look for next time you walk the canal:

A sketch of a bluegill; a round flat freshwater fish.

Bluegill: Lepomis machrochirus is a member of the sunfish family and a popular local angler fish. The Indiana DNR calls these round, flat-bodied fish Indiana’s favorite panfish. 

A sketch of a hybrid striped bass, a narrow freshwater fish.

Hybrid Striped Bass: A common sport fish in Indiana, these bass are a hybrid between a striped bass (Morone saxatilis) and a white bass (Morone chrysops). Sometimes known as a wiper. 

A sketch of a yellow koi, a narrow, round-bodied ornamental pond fish.

Koi: Ornamental versions of common carp (Cyprinus carpio), koi come in a wide range of solid or mottled color variations including white, black, red, yellow, orange, blue and cream. 

A sketch of a black and orange spotted goldfish.

Goldfish: For all you want to know about goldfish and more, check out our tell-all article! 

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