Pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhnchus albus)

The Pallid Sturgeon (Scaphirhnchus albus) is very rare and almost never seen for sale in the UK. This fish was sold a decade ago but in recent years none have been imported.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

Pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhnchus albus)
Pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhnchus albus)

From North America, the Pallid Sturgeon is found through out the freshwater parts of the Mississippi and to the delta where it meets brackish water.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]


The Pallid Sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) is similar in appearance to the Shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhnchus platorynchus) but paler in colour and with a smoother belly, larger head, wider mouth and smaller eyes.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

Scaphirhnchus albus has 14-18 dorsal scutes, 40-48 lateral scutes and 9-13 ventral scutes. The barbels are fringed (fimbriated) the outer barbels are posterior to and longer than the inner ones.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

As the name suggests, this is a pale coloured species being light blue-grey on the back to white on the belly.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

A maximum size of 1.8m and 45 kg has been recorded and a life expectancy of more than 40 years. The more usual sizes are just 50-60cm and 1-3 kg.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

Pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhnchus albus)
Pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhnchus albus)

Food & Feeding

Sturgeons DO NOT, as some people would have you believe, eat banket weed or 'clean the bottom of the pond'. Sturgeons need to be fed all year round, they need 2-3% of their body weight of good quality food per day in the summer, less in the winter.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

A healthy sturgeon diet must contain a high level of animal protein, sturgeons need a minimum protein content of 40% and an oil level of 15% or more. A a small percentage of the protein can be obtained from soya but the majority needs to be from fishmeal or other animal sources.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

Pellet to Sturgeon size:
  • 2mm pellet Starter Diet Sturgeon 10-20cm (4-8in)
  • 3mm pellet Sturgeon 20-36cm (8-14in)
  • 4.5mm pellet - sturgeon size 30-50cm (12-20in)
  • 6mm pellet Sturgeon 36-61cm (14-24in)
  • 8mm pellet Sturgeon over 61cm (24in)

Stellatus (Acipenser stellatus) and Sterlets (Acipenser ruthenus) have smaller throats; use a size smaller for them.

Buy sturgeon food pellets from Orchard Fisheries »

For more information feeding your sturgeon see our Sturgeon Food and Feeding page.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

Pallid Sturgeons and the Missouri River by MoRiverRecovery

Pallid Sturgeon by MontanaFWP

Health Issues

The most common sturgeon health problems are food and/or oxygen related, get these two vital things right and your sturgeons should remain fit and healthy.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

Use an oxygen test kit to make sure there is enough oxygen in the water. Follow the instructions that come with the kit to ensure correct results. Do not assume that there is plenty of air just because you have an air pump running. Many things can affect the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water so testing is the only way to be certain. Warm water holds less oxygen than cold water so be vigilant during hot weather, especially stormy nights when the oxygen may drop to dangerously low levels suddenly.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

Feed your sturgeon plenty of the correct food all year round. For more information about feeding your sturgeon see our Sturgeon Food and Feeding page.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

Avoid strong chemical treatments such as formalin/formaldehyde, Potassium permanganate, Copper sulphate or any treatment that states not to be used with Golden Orfe (Leciscus sp.) or Rudd (Scardinius reythrophathalmus), these will probably kill your sturgeon. Salt is the safest treatment to use with sturgeons. For more information about treating your sturgeon see our Medications and Treating Sturgeons page.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

Provide the best possible water quaility for you fish. Run the pump and filtration all year round and keep a spare back up pump in case of main pump failure. For more information about water quality see our Water Quality page.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

Sturgeon - Keys to ID by moconservation

Pallid Sturgeon by pengelhard1

Wild distrubution

Pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhnchus albus) wild distrubution map
Pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhnchus albus) wild distrubution map

The Pallid Sturgeon is a potamodromous (freshwater only) North American species with a range covering approximately 3,515 miles of river, occupying large free-flowing main channel areas in the Mississippi River and the upper Missouri River.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

The Pallid Sturgeon has become rare in the wild and is listed as 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The species is now being reproduced in captivity to restock the rivers.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]

Populations are decreasing in the upper part of the range but are currently stable in the lower part of the range.[This work is copyright © 2000-2021]


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Superclass: Osteichthyes

Class: Actinopterygii

Subclass: Chondrostei

Order: Acipenseriformes

Suborder: Acipenseroidei

Family: Acipenseridae

Subamily: Scaphirhynchinae

Genus: Scaphirhynchus

Species: Scaphirhynchus albus Forbes & Richardson, 1905

Common names

Pallid Sturgeon


Encyclopedia of Life | FAO Species Fact Sheet | Fishbase | ITIS | Pond Life

Written by Terry White & Graham Quick