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Sturgeons and Paddlefishes: Acipenseriformes

Physical Characteristics

Sturgeons (STUHR-jens) and paddlefishes are some of the largest freshwater fishes, ranging from 2.5 feet (0.8 meters) to about 28 feet (8.5 meters) in length. They have no scales and no lateral (LAT-uhr-uhl) line, or series of pores and tiny tubes along each side of the body used for sensing vibrations (vie-BRAY-shuns). Sturgeons and paddlefishes are dark on top but light or white on the bottom. Sturgeons are gray, brown, dark blue, olive green, or nearly black. Paddlefishes are bluish gray, brown, or black on top. The skeletons of sturgeons and paddlefishes are mostly cartilage (KAR-teh-lej), or tough, bendable support tissue. The only bones are the skull, the jaws, and the bones that support the pectoral (PECK-ter-uhl) fins, the front pair. These fishes have long snouts with barbels (BAR-buhls), or long, thin feelers used for the senses of taste, touch, and smell.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesSturgeons and Paddlefishes: Acipenseriformes - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Sturgeons, Paddlefishes, And People, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT