NANFA-- sturgeon & paddlefish in aquaria

Christopher Scharpf (
Thu, 14 Sep 2000 12:55:28 -0400

I said...

><< While sturgeons and paddlefish, IMO, are not fishes for the home aquarium
because of their size >>

Then Moon asked...

> How big do you think is too big for an aquarium?

Depends on the size of the aquarium and the husbandry protocol. Most home
aquarists do not have the facilty to house large aquaria (>300 gallons).

As big river fishes that grow big, sturgeons are ill-suited for life in all but
large and specially constructed aquaria. Many aquarists who don't know any
better keep them in gravel-bottom tanks, which injures their sensitive barbels
and mouth. The sturgeon's rostrum also can take a beating in the hard, angular
surfaces of aquarium life, often leading to fatal infections. What's more,
aquarium-kept sturgeons tend to get stuck behind filter intake tubes or under
rocks and other aquarium fixtures. In addition to the fact that all North
American sturgeons are protected in one form or another, they are poor
candidates for aquarium life. Sure, some hatchery raised white and shovelnose
sturgeon juveniles are occasionally available in the trade, but the practice
should be discouraged.

Paddlefish present similar problems. They grow large, need lots of food, and
damage their sensitive paddles easily. Occasionally, hatchery reared juveniles
are for sale in pet shops, but you should resist the urge to purchase these
undeniably cute fish. The best place to observe and admire paddlefish is in
public aquaria. Even here, most specimens have damaged rostra. Although the
paddle may be useful in locating microscopic prey, it does a poor job of telling
the paddlefish when it's about to bump into the aquarium glass and various
submerged structures.

I'm not saying that paddlefish and sturgeon are impossible to keep in home
aquaria -- Hhck, virtually nothing is if you have the time, space, equipment and
money to provide for their needs. I'm just saying that they're poor subjects for
typical home aquaria that are best appreciated elsewhere.

Chris Scharpf

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