Pallid sturgeon

Pallid sturgeon


The Pallid Sturgeon, similar in appearance to the Shovelnose Sturgeon, is much lighter in color, has smaller eyes, and a longer and sharper snout. Its inner barbels on the lower surface of the snout are only about half as long, instead of about four-fifths as long, as the outer barbels. Its belly is naked in contrast to the Shovelnose Sturgeon. Maximum size reported for Pallid Sturgeon is 68-pounds.


Pallid sturgeon Distribution

Uncommon in its entire range; found in the Missouri River. A single immature was reported in the Mississippi River near Keokuk in 1930.


Insect larvae, fish, snails, bits of aquatic plants and other litter from the river bottom

State Record

68 pounds

Expert Tip



Inclusion of the Pallid Sturgeon in the Mississippi River is based on a single immature fish captured in 1930 near Keokuk. The Missouri Department of Conservation lists the Pallid Sturgeon as exceedingly rare and confined to the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, spreading only a few miles into the Mississippi upstream from the mouth of the Missouri. This species is somewhat more abundant in the Missouri River upstream of Iowa; but nowhere in its range is it common.

The Pallid Sturgeon was not recognized as a distinct species until 1905. Before that, it was included with the shovelnose.

Habitat preference is similar to shovelnose. The fish spawn in the late spring or summer. Males mature at 3 to 4 years of age and females somewhat older. Early growth is similar to that of shovelnose with fish reaching 23.2-inches long at age five in South Dakota.


Present in these Iowa water bodies:
Lake/Stream County Location Acres/Length
Missouri River (Sioux City to Little Sioux) Harrison Chris Larsen Park: 1280 Larsen Park Road/Sioux City, IA. Located on the Sioux City riverfront along the Missouri River. Larsen Park offers 110 acres on the Sioux City Riverfront. Managed by the City of Sioux City. 64.00
Missouri River (Council Bluffs to state line) Fremont Lake Manawa State Park: 1100 South Shore Drive/Council Bluffs, IA 51501 phone: 712-366-0220. Managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Lake Manawa State Park has boat ramps on the Missouri River within the park. 61.00
Missouri River (Little Sioux to Council Bluffs) Pottawattamie Wilson Island State Recreation Area: 32801 Campground Lane/Missouri Valley, IA 51555 phone-712-642-2069. Managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wilson Island Recreation Area has 544 acres along the Missouri River near Missouri Valley Iowa. 53.00