Lake Sturgeon

Acipenser fulvescens

About This Animal

SIZE: 9 ft (2.74 m)

RANGE: St. Lawrence-Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and Mississippi River basins in North America

HABITAT: Bottom of lakes and large rivers; occasionally enters brackish water

DIET: Crustaceans, worms and mollusks

ON EXHIBIT:  River Giants exhibits in River Gallery

The lake sturgeon is a species that has remained virtually unchanged since swimming alongside the dinosaurs. Populations of this fish has declined due to pollution, habitat destruction and overharvesting. Lake sturgeon may be able to live for 150 years. They do not have typical teeth but instead have wide "crushing plates" in the back of their throats. They use these to crush clams, mussels and crustaceans. The Tennessee Aquarium is working with a variety of different agencies and organizations to reintroduce the lake sturgeon into the French Broad River near Knoxville, Tennessee and the Cumberland River near Nashville, TN. Learn more at

Once plentiful in the Tennessee River, lake sturgeon were extirpated with additions of the dams during the 1900s.  In fact, sturgeon worldwide are threatened due to reduced habitat and overfishing.  Since 1998, all sturgeon have been listed as Appendix II under the Conservation of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).