Lake Sturgeon
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • Close-up head: The snout is rounded and there is a spiracle.
  • Close-up underside of head: Notice the smooth barbels and the two papillose lobes on the lower lip.
  • The bars are showing the length of the caudal peduncle and the pelvic fin insertion to the anal fin origin.
  • Side view of a yearling.
  • Close-up mouth/snout of a yearling.
  • Side view of a young-of year.
  • Top view of a young-of-year.
  • Kendall Kamke, WDNR, holding an adult.
  • Spawning adult in a river.
  • Side view of a wild yearling.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Sturgeons (Acipenseridae)
Mouth and Snout: Prominent rounded snout. Inferior mouth with fleshy lips, no teeth. Four equal-length smooth barbels in front of the mouth. Body Pattern: Dark brown to black mottled color on back and flanks with white undersides. No scales. Body Shape: Fusiform yet dorsal-ventrally flattened. Triangular in cross section. Typical adult size is 1500-1800 mm, with a maximum of 2500 mm (6 feet).
Paired pelvic and pectoral fins, heterocercal tail without long filament on upper lobe. Single dorsal fin with no spines, located on the posterior portion of the back. Pelvic fins abdominal. No adipose fin.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The sturgeons have a fairly distinctive body shape with scutes and an inferior mouth. The lake sturgeon has four smooth barbels. Lover lip with two papillose lobes, spiracle present, continuous gill slit, and caudal peduncle length less than the distance from pelvic fin insertion to anal fin origin. Sturgeons have a row of bony scutes down their backs. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Juveniles look similar to adults, but their scutes are sharper and their color pattern is more mottled.
None known from Wisconsin.
Compare Similar Species
Barbel Type
Sturgeon, LakeSmooth
Sturgeon, ShovelnoseFringed
Number of Papillose Lobes
Sturgeon, LakeLower lip with two papillose lobes
Sturgeon, ShovelnoseLower lip with four papillose lobes
Sturgeon, LakePresent, continuous with gill slit
Sturgeon, ShovelnoseAbsent
Caudal Peduncle Length
Sturgeon, LakeLength less than the distance from pelvic fin insertion to anal fin origin
Sturgeon, ShovelnoseLength greater than the distance from pelvic fin insertion to dorsal fin origin
Similarity Index
Sturgeon, LakeN/A
Sturgeon, ShovelnoseModerately similar