Lake Sturgeon

Lake Sturgeon

Acipenser fulvescens

About This Animal

SIZE: Up to 9 ft., 276 lbs

RANGE: Freshwaters in central and eastern North America

HABITAT: Large lakes and rivers usually at 13-30 feet depth, but have been found up to 141 feet deep. Lake Sturgeon are found over a variety of bottom types including clay, mud, sand, gravel, and rock. Lake Sturgeon overwinter in deep (>20 feet) slow water

DIET: Carnivores, switching from zooplankton as larval sturgeon to bottom-dwelling invertebrates and fishes as juveniles and adults

LIFESPAN: Up to 152 years. Like most long-lived animals Lake Sturgeon have delayed reproduction, with males first spawning at age15-20 yea

ON EHXIBIT: River Giants exhibits in River Gallery and Touch Tank in Discovery Hall

About this Animal: Lake Sturgeon disappeared from the Tennessee River 50 years ago due to overfishing and poor water quality from dam outflows and pollution, but with our help they are coming back.   

Threats: Nonpoint source pollution, sedimentation, habitat destruction, overharvesting, dams

Our Impact: With the help of our partners, we have reintroduced nearly 180,000 Lake Sturgeon to the upper Tennessee River system and over 40,000 Lake Sturgeon in the Cumberland River in Tennessee.  Along with reintroduction, we are using technology to learn more about the Lake Sturgeon. To date we have implanted sonic tags into 49 Lake Sturgeon to track their movements in the Tennessee River. We hope to answer questions about where the fish will spawn in the coming years, where they hang out in the hot summer months and how they move through dams in the river system. In May 2010, we held our first Lake Sturgeon release in Chattanooga, bringing the excitement to our own backyard.  Our Lake Sturgeon program was recently recognized with awards from the Association for Zoos and Aquariums and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Conservation status: No federal protection, but imperiled in 18 states, including Endangered in Tennessee.