Pallid Sturgeon

Scaphirhynchus albus
Species of Conservation Concern

Acipenseridae (sturgeons) in the order Acipenseriformes (sturgeons and paddlefishes)


Similar to shovelnose sturgeon, but with a longer and more pointed snout. Bases of the inner barbels are weakly fringed, and the base of an inner barbel is less than half the width of the base of an outer barbel. Bases of barbels form a crescent.  Belly has only scattered embedded plates or is bare. Grayish-white color. May exceed 30 inches and 10 pounds. Endangered. If caught, return unharmed to water immediately.


Total length: 30-72 inches; weight: up to 100 pounds.

Habitat and conservation

Bottom dwellers in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in Missouri. Found in areas of strong current that have firm sand substrates in the main river channels.


Small fishes and immature aquatic insects that are sucked from the bottom sediments.

image of Pallid Sturgeon distirbution map
Distribution in Missouri

Rarely found but widely distributed. Confined principally to the Missouri and lower Mississippi rivers.


This species has been listed as Endangered by both the state of Missouri and the U.S. government. Thus it is not a game species and if caught must be released.

Life cycle

Known to live at least 40 years. Males mature at around 7 years of age, while females may not spawn until 15-20 years old. Once a commercially fished species, overharvest, dam construction and habitat loss have reduced their numbers to dangerously low levels. Another threat to their survival is hybridization with the more common shovelnose sturgeon.