Classification / Names

Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes) > Acipenseriformes (Sturgeons and paddlefishes) > Acipenseridae(Sturgeons) > Acipenserinae


Size / Weight / Age

Max length: 600 cm
Common length: 125 cm
Max published weight: 400.0 kg
Max published weight: 120 kg
Max reported age: 100 years


Demersal; anadromous; marine; freshwater; brackish; pH range: 7.5 – ? ; dH range: 10 – 20; depth range 4 – 93 m, usually 5 – 60 m

Climate / Range

Temperate; 10°C – 18°C (Ref. 2059); 71°N – 34°N, 25°W – 42°E


Sturgeon are anadromous and swim up freshwater rivers to spawn. The prehistoric fish is the subject of many legends. A Native American legend says a giant sturgeon swallowed Hiawatha, and some believe the Loch Ness monster is really a few-hundred-years-old giant sturgeon; that's how they explain the dragon-like ridge on Nessie's back. The fish are cartilaginous (meaning with no bony skeleton); they have no scales, but are endowed instead with rows of sharp, bony shields or plates, called 'buttons," along their bodies. Sturgeons have long snouts for sucking up anything they can smell, and they can live to be more than 100 years old.


Of the seven North American species of sturgeon, only two – white and green – remain in sufficient numbers to be a commercial resource. Both are on the West Coast. White sturgeon, which are caught primarily in the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon, are more prized for their flavor. In recent years, aqua culturists in California have begun farm raising white sturgeon. Most sturgeon on the market today is farmed.


Flesh can be smoked, baked, fried, grilled, "blackened," poached or sautéed. Long cooking will toughen sturgeon. Sturgeon is a good fish to recommend to red meat or chicken eaters because of its "solid" texture. Enhance the flavor with an Italian vinaigrette marinade or a saffron sauce. A recipe from a major sturgeon farmer calls for sautéing the fish. Season fillets with salt, pepper, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce and roll in flour. Sauté in hot butter only 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with Tomato-Mint Sauce, which is made by adding diced, seedless, skinless roma tomatoes to a reduction of white wine and shallots (reduce 50 percent to ½ cup). Season with salt and pepper. Keep on low heat while mixing in 2 ounces of butter, stirring constantly. Add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint and 1 teaspoon green peppercorns.


Demersal; anadromous; marine; freshwater; brackish; pH range: 7.5 – ? ; dH range: 10 – 20; depth range 4 – 93 m, usually 5 – 60 m.