The lake sturgeon is a primitive-looking fish that lives at the bottom of freshwater lakes and rivers in North America.
  • Size

    3 to 5 feet (1-1.5 m) in length
  • Diet

    Invertebrates, small fish, algae
  • Range

    North America
  • Habitat

    Bottom of lakes and large rivers

Physical Characteristics

  • Lake sturgeons can reach lengths of about 9 feet (2.7 m) 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 sturgeons are gray in color dorsally and white ventrally.
  • There are four distinctive barbels near its mouth, which is on the underside of the head.

Animal Fact

It is estimated that lake sturgeon can live to, and beyond, 100 years of age!

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of fishes, crustaceans, birds, and small mammals as well as reptiles. Turtles and blue crabs are common prey.
  • A bottom feeder that searches for food using its barbels as it moves closely over the substrate.

Range / Habitat

  • Lake sturgeons are North American freshwater fish occurring in the St. Lawrence River, Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and Mississippi River basins.
  • This 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.

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.
  • Females do not reach sexual maturity until 14 to 23 years. Males mature at 8 to 19 years.

Conservation Status

  • “Endangered” 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.


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