Thursday, 16 January 2014

Lake Sturgeon

The word "sturgeon" means "the stirrer," which is what the fish does when it is looking for food; it stirs up the mud and silt on river and lake bottoms.

Lake Sturgeon
Acipenser fulvescens

• Family: Acipenseridae (Sturgeons)

• Other Names: Great Lakes sturgeon, rock sturgeon, bullnosed sturgeon

• Ohio Status: Endangered

• Adult Size: Usually 4-6 feet, can reach over 8ft in length. Typically weigh 50-100 pounds. The largest recorded weight in Ohio was from Lake Erie in 1929 and weighed 216 pounds, they can reach over 300 pounds.

• Typical Foods: Primarily feed on mussels and snails but will eat a wide range of invertebrates, some fish, and some plant material.
The lake sturgeon has numerous body plates on its back, sides, and belly. This fish has no scales and the skin is very coarse. The mouth is located on the underside of the snout and is an extendible tube-like structure. They also have four long barbels in front of their mouth. The only other similar species in Ohio is the
shovelnose sturgeon.

Habitat and Habits
The lake sturgeon requires large bodies of water with connections to much smaller streams for spawning. They were historically very abundant in both the Ohio River and Lake Erie and would make spawning runs far up tributaries of both of these. Old records indicate they came as far up the Maumee River system as the Ottawa River near Lima and the Scioto River as far upstream as Columbus. Today there are still small numbers of them present in Lake Erie but none have been found in the Ohio River since 1971. Much of their decline is likely due to the numerous dams that prevent them from reaching their spawning grounds.

Reproduction and Care of the Young
Lake sturgeon spawn in fast flowing rivers or over lake shoals with clean cobble to boulder substrates sometime in May or June. Preferred spawning depth is between 2 and 15 feet. Females reach sexual maturity at 20 to 25 years of age and carry 4,000 to 5,000 eggs per pound of body weight. Individuals will only spawn once every four to seven years. Lake sturgeon can live as long as 150 years.

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