Fish health centers provide expertise in aquatic animal health through diagnostics, monitoring, investigations, certifications and training related to both wild and captive populations. Centers coordinate the Wild Fish Health Survey and address emerging pathogen issues through applied research and innovative management strategies. The La Crosse Fish Health Center provides services for Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.

About Us

The La Crosse Fish Health Center:

Established in 1962, the La Crosse Fish Health Center serves as the region’s fish doctors. We provide fish health inspections and diagnostic services to national fish hatcheries in Wisconsin, Missouri, and Ohio. Like all animals, fish are susceptible to a variety of environmental, nutritional, and infectious diseases. If left untreated, these diseases can often lead to death. Infectious diseases, those caused by pathogens - organisms such as parasites, bacteria or viruses - are of special concern because they can be easily spread to other fish within a hatchery, to another hatchery during fish transfers, or to wild populations if infected fish are released. Through surveys, inspections, and research we help to keep fish, freshwater mussel, and amphibian populations healthy for the continuing benefit of the American people.

What We Do

How We Help

  • Assist in maintaining healthy populations of fish in national fish hatchery and tribal facilities.
  • Assist state, federal and private managers in diagnosing and controlling infectious disease agents.
  • Monitor use of aquatic animal drugs and chemicals.

Our Organization

The La Crosse Fish Health Center is housed within the Midwest Fisheries Center, which also includes the La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, Whitney Genetics Laboratory and administrative, GIS and outreach staff, as well as the Regional Watercraft Safety Coordinator.

The Midwest Fisheries Center is the region’s Fish Technology Center for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Fish Technology Centers provide leadership in science-based management of trust aquatic resources through applied research and the development of new concepts, strategies and techniques to solve problems in aquatic resource conservation. Established in 2015, the Midwest Fisheries Center’s mission is: “Working in partnership, we provide leadership in science, technology and education for conservation of aquatic ecosystems emphasizing fisheries, aquatic 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
, genetics and aquatic animal health for the benefit of the public”.

The Fish and Aquatic Conservation program leads aquatic conservation efforts for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We are committed to tackling the nation’s highest priority aquatic conservation and recreational challenges to conserve, restore, and enhance fisheries for future generations.
Healthy fisheries are core to the conservation work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We are working with partners to protect and enhance the health of fish and other aquatic animals in aquaculture and in the wild.
Aquatic invasive species cause tremendous harm to our environment, our economy, and our health. They can drive out and eat native plants and wildlife, spread diseases, and damage infrastructure. We work to protect our waterways and the communities that depend on them from the threat of invasive...

Our Species

We work with various hatchery fish including lake sturgeon, pallid sturgeon, coaster brook trout, lake trout, cisco, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, bluegill, yellow perch and black crappie as well as various amphibian and mussel species which are sensitive to changes in the environment. Some of these are threatened or endangered species undergoing restoration efforts.

Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) are one of four nonnative fish species belonging to a group commonly referred to as “invasive carp”. Native to eastern Asia, silver carp were introduced to the United States during the 1970’s and 1980’s to private fish farms and wastewater...

FWS Focus

Bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) are native to eastern Asia and are one of four nonnative fish referred to as “invasive carp”. These fish are large, deep bodied fish that have a large head and a large toothless mouth with a protruding lower jaw. The bighead carp eyes are far...

FWS Focus

The pallid sturgeon was first recognized as a species different from shovelnose sturgeon by S. A. Forbes and R. E. Richardson in 1905 based on a study of nine specimens collected from the Mississippi River near Grafton, Illinois (Forbes and Richardson 1905). They named this new species...

FWS Focus

The Higgins eye is a freshwater mussel of larger rivers where it is usually found in areas with deep water and moderate currents. Its range includes the upper Mississippi River, the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin, the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin, and the lower Rock River...

FWS Focus

Projects and Research

Key Initiatives

  • Provide disease certifications for fish prior to transfers and/or stocking.
  • Survey wild populations of aquatic species for target and emerging pathogens to determine their distribution.
  • Conducts research on fish pathogen management and control.

Visit Us

Our lobby features informational displays describing local aquatic wildlife and our scientific research and conservation efforts, a Mississippi River mural and an aquarium of local native fish. The lobby is open to the public. Our laboratories and other work areas are not generally open for tours so we encourage visitors to email or call to pre-arrange a tour. 

Get Involved

The Midwest Fisheries Center offers environmental education activities for community groups and schools. In addition, the center can lend fishing poles to local community groups. Each year, the center co-sponsors several events in the community. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available in several different areas.

Location and Contact Information