A propeller is covered in tiny mussel shells.
To the Natchitoches Community:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided comment to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources on the request to pump water from Red River to Cane River Lake. Operating the pump without the suggested 40-micron filter would dramatically increase the chance of infesting the Cane River Lake with invasive zebra mussel and silver carp. Introducing these invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
could potentially halt or drastically reduce hatchery programs if they infest the Cane River Lake and the hatchery.

Zebra mussels are a threat to our community as they coat riverbeds, boats, docks, and water intake pipes with their sharp shells, damaging infrastructure and creating a dangerous environment for water-based recreational activities. Similarly, silver carp compete with our native fish for resources and pose a unique safety risk due to their unpredictable leaping behavior.

The introduction of zebra mussel and silver carp will have a significant impact on both the water chemistry and its productivity. These mussels and carp are filter-feeders, removing large quantities of nutrients that are essential for the species reared in this hatchery. We are prohibited from knowingly transporting or stocking fish or other species that are infected or exposed to waters with exotic invasive species.

The Service’s Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery plays a crucial role in propagating and releasing sportfish, providing substantial financial benefits for Louisiana. In collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the hatchery raises and stocks a significant number of sportfish for the state (75% of stocked fish). Natchitoches is also unique in that it rears ESA-listed species such as the Louisiana pearlashell, a freshwater mussel found only in two parishes in Louisiana and raised nowhere else. Other threatened and endangered species reared at this facility include the inflated heelsplitter and gopher tortoise.

Since its establishment in 1931, the Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery has played a pivotal role in addressing America’s aquatic resource needs in the region. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to safeguarding water quality for both wildlife and humans, and dedicated to the prevention, eradication, and control of invasive species.

Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery is a warm water station currently involved in spawning, hatching, and rearing young fish (fingerlings), turtles, and mussels. The various species are raised to a size and age which provide them with the best chance of surviving in the wild; a valuable tool in the Service's mission of species restoration & recovery as well as enhancing recreational fishing. The hatchery is also involved in research projects for these various species including tagging and monitoring for tracking the species in the wild, fish feed trials, and improving culture and spawning techniques.

Visit Us

View of Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery Aquarium entrance and American Flag/ DOI flags flying.

We are OPEN!

Stop by Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery to experience our free, self guided, Aquarium exhibit! Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery also has 53 outdoor ponds, averaging .8 acres in size. There is no designated walking trail, but you are welcome to walk on the levees for birdwatching, wildlife viewing, exercise, or to just enjoy being outdoors. Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery is an eBird hotspot with 114 individuals species noted, come see if you can find some more. The aquarium is open from 8-3 daily while the hatchery is open from 8-3 Monday - Thursday.



Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery is one of 69 Federal fish hatcheries located across the United States, and is the only Federal fish hatchery located in Louisiana.  Opened in 1931, the hatchery has raised many different species of fish over the years, and is currently working towards species recovery and restorations efforts for Louisiana Pearshell mussels, Alligator snapping turtles, Gulf Striped Bass; as well as assisting in Alligator Gar and Paddlefish efforts. Natchitoches also works with various partners to enhance recreational fishing by raising Channel Catfish, Largemouth bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, Bluegill, and Redear Sunfish.  Louisiana is called Sportsman’s Paradise reflecting, a history steeped in the environment.

      As we work to protect our natural resources, we also aim to protect the cultural heritage of the people who were here long before us.  Natchitoches NFH has been working with the Caddo Indian Nation for years to develop educational resources for the local school systems that teach about the Caddo way of life.  The Aquarium at Natchitoches NFH contains displays featuring the Caddo people who use to inhabit the very land the hatchery is built on.  In addition to our indoor displays there is also a memorial plaza located on the side of the Aquarium, dedicated to remembering the Caddo people who lived, died and were buried on now what is known at Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery.


      Group or individual tours are available upon request.

      Day of tours for individuals or small groups are subject to staff availability. 

      Our Species

      Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery is involved in restoring populations of threatened, endangered, and at-risk species as well as propagating recreational species to increase fishing opportunities across the southeast.