What Are Sturgeon?

What Are Sturgeon?The sturgeon is a primitive fish that goes back 350 million years, according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website. Sturgeons have kept their prehistoric look, and they are increasingly rare in North America.


Sturgeons are easily the largest freshwater fish on the North American continent, with some species reaching lengths as long as 20 feet. The white sturgeon of the Pacific Northwest, for example, can weigh over 1,500 pounds.


A sturgeon has a long body covered with scutes, or bony plates, which form rows along the length of the fish that almost make them appear to possess five sides. Scutes are modified scales that protect the sturgeon.

Key Characteristic

The sturgeon has a bony snout with a mouth that extends downward underneath it. Four fleshy appendages known as barbels hang from the snout and enable the sturgeon to feel along the bottom as it searches for food.


The Missouri Department of Conservation website cites loss of habitat and overfishing of the species as the reason why sturgeon are on endangered lists across the country. Other problems sturgeons face include pollution and invasive species that crowd them out of their natural environment.

Time Frame

Lake sturgeons have the ability to live for as long as 150 years and the white sturgeon may live to see 100 birthdays.

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