St. Louis River Alliance

An Ancient Fish

Sturgeon have changed little since prehistoric times. With bony plates surrounding their body, it’s easy to imagine them swimming in ancient waters even before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The sturgeon’s body is torpedo-shaped. Its snout is wedge-shaped and short. Distinguishing characteristics are the sturgeon’s toothless tubular mouths, which they use to suck food off the bottom of rivers and lakes, and dangling barbels that are on the underside of their snout, just before their mouths. Sturgeon eat small fish, clams, algae, leeches, crayfish and aquatic insects.

Large sturgeonGLAlowrez

Photo courtesy of the Great Lakes Aquarium

One of the oldest families of fish, sturgeon are found only in the northern hemisphere. They are native to the rivers, lakes and coastlines of Europe, Asia and North America. Sturgeon is the common name for 26 species of fish. Among the largest of fishes, some sturgeon species can grow 19 feet long and weigh 2,500 pounds. Sturgeon breed at age 25 or so and are among the longest-lived of the fishes, some to over 100 years.