Genoa National Fish Hatchery Conserving the nature of America

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Conserving the Nature of America

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.


Lake Sturgeon

Hatchery staff hold a juvenile lake sturgeon
Juvenile lake sturgeon. Photo by USFWS.

Genoa National Fish Hatchery assists up to eight states and three midwestern tribes each year to restore lake sturgeons to their waters. Lake sturgeons are a very important part of Native American culture and history. Lake sturgeon populations have been heavily depleted through human activities such as pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction and the construction of barriers such as dams that impede migration. Genoa National Fish Hatchery currently raises six strains of lake sturgeon for ongoing restoration programs to assist in this long-lived and interesting species. The best time to see sturgeon production at the hatchery is from May to September. The hatchery also has constructed two streamside rearing trailers for this imperiled species and assists in the operation of one unit on the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

Freshwater Mussels

Hatchery staff hold several Higgins eye pearly mussels tagged with identification numbers
Higgens eye pearlymussels. Photo by USFWS.

Genoa National Fish Hatchery assists in a multi-agency programs to recover five federally endangered mussels to their historic range. This is accomplished by collecting wild adult mussels with two station divers and placing mussel larvae, or glochidia, on the correct host fish species for that particular mussel species. Mussels require a fish host to complete their life cycle. Microscopic mussel larvae live off nutrients supplied by the fish while attached to the skin or gills of the host. Genoa National Fish Hatchery also works to restore 14 other native mussel species throughout the nation and is considered a national leader in the development of techniques and methods to forward freshwater mussel propagation.

Download the pull-tab luring plain pocketbook mussel activity.
Download the mussel life cycle card game.

Coaster Brook Trout

Juvenile coaster brook trout measuring less than 2 inches
Juvenile coaster brook trout. Photo by USFWS.

Genoa National Fish Hatchery works to restore coaster brook trout to the Lake Superior drainage area. Coasters are a variant of brook trout that migrate to the ocean or the Great Lakes to feed and grow before returning to their nursery or birth streams to reproduce. The small fish are protected from predation while in the nursery streams, but grow faster and larger when enjoying the vast food supplies available in the larger body of water that they migrate to, be it ocean or Great Lake. Coaster brook trout were nearly extirpated at the end of the last century due to poor water quality from logging, pollution, erosion, sedimentation and overfishing.

Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly

Hine's emerald dragonfly perched on a branch
Hine's emerald dragonfly. Photo by USFWS.

In addition to raising fish and freshwater mussels, Genoa also rears the endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly. Historically, Hine’s were found in Alabama, Indiana and Ohio. Present day, however, it survives in only small isolated locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Missouri. Habitat loss, pesticide use and changes in groundwater have all contributed to its decline. Genoa captively rears Hine’s emerald dragonfly larvae from field collected eggs or early larval stages in order to augment the wild Illinois populations.

Providing Fish and Mussels to Scientific and Academic Organizations for Research and Development

Genoa National Fish Hatchery produces fish and mussels to assist in the advancement of science in toxicology and the biological control of invasive species. The station works closely with the U.S. Geological Survey's lab located in La Crosse, Wisconsin to examine toxicity of lampricides to various freshwater mussel species. Research will contribute to the development of safe biocides to control aquatic nuisance species.