American Oceans

Sturgeon Size: Everything There is to Know

Sturgeons are known for their impressive size, with some species reaching substantial lengths and weights.

humpbacked beluga sturgeon finding eggs for reproduction

Among the largest sturgeon species is the beluga sturgeon, with a record-breaking individual measuring 7.2 meters (23 feet 7 inches) long and weighing 1,571 kg (3,463 lb), captured in the Volga Delta in 1827.

However, it is important to note that such gigantic specimens are less common.

These ancient fish can be found in various regions around the world, from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, with most species being anadromous bottom-feeders.

This means they migrate upstream to spawn but spend the majority of their lives feeding in river deltas and estuaries. The size of sturgeons can vary depending on the species and the environment in which they live.

For example, the Atlantic sturgeon can grow up to 16 feet long and weigh as much as 800 pounds, while the shortnose sturgeon is distinguished by its smaller size compared to the Atlantic sturgeon.

Sturgeons’ growth rates also vary widely, making it challenging to determine their age without a tissue sample. As such, understanding sturgeon size is an intriguing topic for both science and general interest.


Sturgeon Species and Distribution

Sturgeons are a family of bony fish that have survived for millions of years. They are known for their large size, with some species growing up to 7-10 feet long, and even rarer specimens reaching up to 26.2 feet.

swimming sturgeon in the nature

There are 27 species of sturgeon found worldwide, each with unique characteristics and habitats.

One well-known species is the Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus), commonly referred to as the Common Sturgeon or New York Sturgeon.

This species can grow up to 14 feet long and weigh up to 800 pounds. Its distribution spans the eastern coast of North America, from Canada to Florida.

Another notable species is the Beluga Sturgeon, which holds the record for the largest individual captured.

This specimen, found in the Volga Delta in 1827, measured 23 feet 7 inches long and weighed 3,463 pounds.

Most sturgeons, including the Beluga, are anadromous bottom-feeders that migrate upstream to spawn but spend most of their lives feeding in river deltas and estuaries.

In addition to these species, several other types of sturgeon can be found around the


Smallest Sturgeon Species

The smaller species of sturgeons are typically characterized by their shorter length and lighter weight compared to their larger counterparts.

a person holding a small sturgeon

Although pinpointing the exact smallest species can be challenging, the variation in size among different species of sturgeons can have them measuring around 2-3 meters (7-10 feet) in length.

Sturgeons of these smaller sizes are more commonly found across a variety of regions and habitats, contributing to the diversity of the sturgeon family.

Largest Sturgeon Species

At the other end of the spectrum, the beluga sturgeon (Huso huso) holds the title for the largest sturgeon species.

Sturgeons swims underwater

Renowned for its size, a beluga sturgeon can grow up to an impressive length of 7 meters (24 feet) and weigh as much as 1,500 kg (1.65 tons), making it as heavy as a small truck.

It is important to note that these larger sizes are less common and not all sturgeons within the species will reach these extraordinary dimensions.

The largest sturgeon ever recorded was a beluga female captured in the Volga Delta in 1827, measuring 7.2 meters (23 feet 7 inches) long and weighing 1,571 kg (3,463 pounds).


Factors Influencing Sturgeon Size

Sturgeon size is influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, habitat and environmental conditions, and diet and nutrients.

a white sturgeon swimming underwater

In this section, we will explore these factors and discuss how they contribute to the overall growth and size of sturgeon.

Genetics

Different species of sturgeon have varying genetic predispositions to grow to specific sizes.

The maximum length and weight that a sturgeon can reach are heavily influenced by their genetic makeup.

As a result, some species will naturally grow larger than others, making genetics one of the most crucial factors affecting the size of sturgeon.

Habitat and Environmental Conditions

Sturgeon size is also influenced by their living conditions. Water temperature plays a vital role in their growth, as sturgeon generally prefer cooler temperatures.

Sturgeons also prefer habitats with low turbidity, or the amount of sediment and silt in the water, which can affect their overall size and growth.

Furthermore, water flow and level can have an impact on sturgeon spawning, which may indirectly influence their population size and growth rates.

Factors such as latitude and water temperature are also known to affect the size and growth rates of sturgeon, with growth rates generally decreasing with increased latitude and water temperature.

Diet and Nutrients

Sturgeons’ diet and the availability of nutrients in their habitat can also have a significant impact on their size.

Adequate nutrition is essential for sturgeon to maintain healthy growth and reach their maximum size potential.

A diet rich in protein and other essential nutrients promotes efficient growth and a larger overall size.


Growth Rates and Lifespan

Sturgeons exhibit a wide range of growth rates and lifespans across different species and environments.

a sterlet sturgeon swimming

Factors such as habitat, food availability, and water temperature can impact sturgeon growth rates.

Atlantic sturgeon, for example, have a lifespan correlated with their geographical location. In Canada, they can live up to 60 years, while in the Southeast, their lifespan is usually between 25 and 30 years.

Their growth rates are determined by various environmental and biological parameters necessary for optimal growth, survival, and reproduction of the species in the wild.

In some reservoirs, juvenile White sturgeon under 40 inches (100 cm) in length grow at an annual rate of around two to four inches per year.

However, sturgeon of similar sizes in Hells Canyon experience a much slower growth rate, averaging less than one inch per year.

Contrastingly, Siberian sturgeons have a faster growth rate, growing about 10 inches per year on average. They can reach up to 1.5 meters in length.

When it comes to the Beluga sturgeon, one of the largest sturgeon species, it can reportedly grow up to 10 meters and 4,500 pounds, although 5 to 7 meters and 2,500 pounds seem to be more common sizes.

SpeciesGrowth RateTypical Lifespan
Atlantic SturgeonVariable, depending on location25-60 years
White SturgeonTwo to four inches per year in reservoirsVariable, depending on habitat
Siberian Sturgeon10 inches per year on averageUnknown
Beluga SturgeonVariableUnknown

Add comment