Shovelnose 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 snout: Notice the shovel-like shape of the snout; there is no spiracle.
  • Notice the length of the caudal peduncle and the pelvic fin insertion to the anal fin origin.
  • Close-up mouth: Notice the barbels and the papillose lobes on the lower lip.
  • Head-on view: Notice the shovel-like shape of the snout.
  • Top view of snout: Notice the shovel-like shape of the snout.
  • Close-up tail of a juvenile: Notice the tail filament which is usually broken off in older fish.
  • Close-up head of a juvenile.
  • Side view of a juvenile.
  • Close-up of mouth of a juvenile.
  • Alternative side view of an adult fish held by Hank Bart, Tulane University.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Sturgeons (Acipenseridae)
Mouth and Snout: Prominent pointed, shovel-like mouth. Inferior mouth with fleshy lips, no teeth. Four lobes and four fringed barbels on underside of snout, forward of the mouth. Body Pattern: Solid light brown, dark tan or sand-colored on back and flanks with white or lighter undersides. No scales. Body Shape: Fusiform yet dorsal-ventrally flattened. Triangular in cross section. Typical adult size is 500-650 mm, with a maximum of about 850 mm (30 inches).
Paired pelvic and pectoral fins, heterocercal tail with long filament on upper lobe (often broken and missing). Single dorsal fin with no spines, located on the posterior portion of the back. Pelvic fins are abdominal. No adipose fin.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The sturgeons have a fairly distinctive body shape with scutes and an inferior mouth. The shovelnose sturgeon has a wide, flat head and four fringed barbels; a lower lip with four papillose lobes, no spiracle, and caudal peduncle length greater than distance from pelvic fin insertion to dorsal fin origin. Sturgeons have a row of bony scutes down their backs. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Juveniles look the same, but have sharper scutes.
None known from Wisconsin.
Compare Similar Species
Barbel Type
Sturgeon, LakeSmooth
Sturgeon, ShovelnoseFringed
Number of Papillose Lobes
Sturgeon, Lake2
Sturgeon, Shovelnose4
Sturgeon, LakePresent
Sturgeon, ShovelnoseNot present
Caudal Peduncle Length
Sturgeon, LakeLess than the distance from the pelvic fin insertion to anal fin origin.
Sturgeon, ShovelnoseGreater than distance from the pelvic fin insertion to dorsal fin origin.
Similarity Index
Sturgeon, LakeModerately similar
Sturgeon, ShovelnoseN/A