4 types of scary fish in Lake Michigan that you didn’t know about

Probably sharks, probably piranha, definitely Snakehead, definitely Lamprey in Lake Michigan.

You know why the news is so focused on informing you about the threat of the Asian Carp to Lake Michigan? Because there is much, MUCH scarier shit in those waters. There’s fish in there that make the Asian Carp look like a Petsmart Betta fish. Here’s a list of 4 scary-ass fish: 2 that are confirmed, and 2 that are likely, to be found in Lake Michigan near Chicago.

Piranha Lake Michigan

Piranha are known to eat their own babies. Photo via www.extremescience.com

1.) Piranha

Okay, so there have been no official reports of Piranha in Lake Michigan, but they turn up in little lakes around the Midwest all the time. Most recently, a pacu (a close relative of piranha) was caught in an Illinois lake.

They likely originated as aquarium pets that owners let into the lakes for some open-water exercise. How else do you ‘walk’ a fish? I’ll admit, I’m guilty of a few of these cases. I feel bad seeing my piranha in their tiny little tank all day. Sometimes I fill up the bathtub and let them play around, and sometimes I’ll take them down to the lake for an evening swim. But I always keep them on a leash and clean up after them, like any good piranha owner. And I’ve only lost 2 of them in Lake Michigan (due to a small leash malfunction which has since been fixed). You didn’t read it here, but yea, there “might” be a couple of ’em in Lake Michigan. They’re names are Pee-wee and Mike (Mike is the bigger one), and if you’ve seen

Snakehead fish in Lake Michigan

They have teeth. And they can walk on land. photo via www.news1130.com

them, get a hold of me ASAP.

2.) Snakehead

Snakehead are only THE MOST BADASS fish ever to grace the depths (and shores) of Lake Michigan… And I say ‘shores’ only because they have the ability to breathe out of water for 7 days… And I say they can breathe out of water for 7 days because they can use their fins to ‘walk’ from one body of water to another as they devour the entire population before moving on to the next lake… And I say they are badass because they can grow up to 3 feet long.

3.) Bull Shark

The Conservation Report says that, “Bull sharks are not restricted to saltwater. Due to its physiology, the bull shark is highly adaptable to freshwater conditions and have been recorded far into the Mississippi River.”
But just how far up the Mississippi River can a Bull Shark make it? So far the

Bull shark Mississippi River

Photo of a Bull Shark caught in the Mississippi River in 1937 via biofort.blogspot.com

record is a 5-foot Bull Shark caught in Alton, Illinois (just outside of St. Louis) and there are reports of a few Bull Sharks making it as far north as Minnesota. Its unlikely that a Bull Shark could make it much further toward Lake Michigan. They don’t really like water temperatures below 68 degrees, and there are several locks and barriers a shark would have to go through. However, as Global Warming takes its toll, we might be seeing more and more of these rare cases in the next few years. Lake Michigan surface temperatures reached almost 80 degrees in summer 2012.

sea lamprey4.) Sea Lamprey

Sea Lamprey are also ocean fish that have learned to adapt to fresh water, leading to massive infestations in the great lakes in the 1950s.

The sea lamprey is described as “an agressive parasite — equipped with a tooth-filled mouth that flares open at the end of its eel-like body. When attacking, the lamprey fastens onto its prey and rasps out a hole with its rough tongue.” It looks like something out of Star Wars, am I right? Scary stuff.

Star Wars monster

photo of a Mynock from Empire Strikes Back via starwars.wikia.com

Sure I can deal with a little Piranha bite (they can get a bit nippy when I try to give mine their bath), but it seems like a lamprey bite might sting a bit more- “An anticoagulant in the lamprey’s saliva keeps the wound open for hours or weeks, until the lamprey is satiated or the host fish [or human] dies.”



  1. Creepy.. thanks for traumatizing me for good

  2. Wait, what about muskies? They are huge and have sharp, pointy teeth!

    • Pike and muskellunge are know for biting people trying to resuscitate fish before they release them. Also people hanging hands or feet off docks or boats.

      • chicagoranter says:

        I can see that happening. Sounds painful.
        Sometimes I see a duck or seagull without a leg and I wonder if a pike got to it, I know they go after baby ducks all the time.

  3. pissed off says:

    I hope you are joking about letting loose non-native fish in lake Michigan. It’s not some trivial joke to possibly destroy or upset an entire ecosystem simply because you felt sorry for your stupid exotic fish. All it takes is a functioning breeding pair or two for history to be changed forever, irresponsibly.

  4. You are an idiot.

  5. craig ibershof says:

    Actually the piranha in lake michigan is real. A few years back someone caught a big ass one near the power plant in holland along lake macatawa in holland, mi. It actually made the article was in the outdoors section of the grand rapids press.

    • chicagoranter says:

      damn! haven’t heard about that one! ill have to look up that headline and throw an update here. thanks for the info!

  6. S. Shively says:

    If you want to take your chances, go for it. People can be so naive, and oblivious. I choose to not be one of you!!!!! Ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s stupidity and denial. Everything changes. ..it’s called evolution. Good luck to all of you with closed minds…maybe you were meant to be food.

  7. Jason Heivilin says:

    If you were to actually look up the historical records, you’ll find that there was a shark attack in Lake Michigan in Chicago in either 1954 or 1956.

  8. 2 of the scary fish is not that cool BTW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Anthony says:

    SHARKS in Lake Michigan? CRAZY!!!

  10. You guys know about Dagon? It’s plausible but yeah unlikely but it does happen. Did you see the web posting by WGN news I wrote a new horror story playing off this urban legend. That’s the name of the Bull Shark that was said to be sighted just in 2014.

  11. Come on!!!!


  1. […] and even Minnesota. Anyone else think it's possible a few of them have made it into Lake Michigan? 4 types of scary fish in Lake Michigan you don't know-Chicago Rants Check out the link, looks like there might be a couple a Piranha sightings […]

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