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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • Overhead River Habitat (River Scout)

Range / Habitat

  • Lake sturgeon is a North American fresh water fish occurring in the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and Mississippi River basins. 
  • The species is found at the bottom of lakes and large rivers (usually from about 16 to 30 feet [5 - 9 m] in depth) over mud, sand and gravel. Occasionally enters brackish water.

Physical Characteristics

  • Lake sturgeon can reach lengths of about 9 feet (274 cm) and weights of 276 lbs. (125 kg). More commonly, a mature adult averages between 3 to 5 feet (0.9 -1.5 m) and 10 to 80 lbs. (4.5 - 36 kg). 
  • Primitive in appearance, the lake sturgeon has a torpedo-shaped body that is covered with five rows of bony plates: one on top and two rows along each side.
  • Lake sturgeon is gray in color dorsally and white ventrally.
  • There are four distinctive barbels near its mouth, which is on the underside of the head.

Diet / Feeding

  • Lake sturgeon is omnivorous and has been described as “eating virtually anything." Food items include: leeches, snails, clams, other invertebrates, small fish, and algae.
  • A bottom feeder that searches for food using its barbels as it moves closely over the substrate.

Reproduction / Growth

  • Spawns over rocky and boulder-filled areas along the outside bend of rivers and around islands. Spawning occurs from April through June. The female produces 100,000 to 800,000 eggs.
  • Lake sturgeon eggs hatch in 5 to 8 days and young reach 7.5 inches (19 cm) by the end of their first growing season.
  • Female does not reach sexual maturity for 14 to 23 years. Male matures in 8 to 19 years. 

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. 
  • The international trade of the species is also restricted by CITES II.

Additional Information

  • The lake sturgeon is estimated to live to 100 years. A 154 year old, 208 lbs. (94 kg) individual was caught in Lake of the Woods, Canada in 1953.

Sources

www.fishbase.org
www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/wildlife/endspec/lakestur.html
www.iucnredlist.org