Sturgeon Size Comparison: Just How Big Do the Different Types Get?

Written by Sarah Psaradelis
Updated: June 1, 2023
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Sturgeons are large, long-lived fish that are considered “living fossils” because of their prehistoric history. These fish are native to the temperate, subtropical, and sub-artic waters in North America and Eurasia, but they can be found in different parts of the world in waterways like lakes and rivers. Sturgeons can be found in either salt, fresh, or brackish waters. In some cases, they will hatch in freshwater before migrating to saltwater.

There are over 25 different species of sturgeons, and they all belong to the Acipenseridae family. Each species can vary in size and appearance, but they all have long and smooth bodies lined with bony-plated armor.

This article will focus on the different sizes of sturgeon fish and discuss just how big the different types can get.

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What Is the Average Size of Sturgeon?

A picture of a sturgeon fish isolated on white without a shadow.

The average size of most sturgeon species is 7 to 12 feet in length.

©azure1/Shutterstock.com

The average size of most sturgeon is 7 to 12 feet in length with a weight of 400 to 800 pounds. Some of these fish can grow over 20 feet in length and weigh over 2,000 pounds. The size and weight of a sturgeon will depend on their species, with each species varying in length.

One of the largest sturgeons in the world is the beluga sturgeon (H. huso), which can grow up to 24 feet in size and weigh up to 3,500 pounds. This is quite impressive in comparison to one of the smallest species, the syr darya, which reaches 1 foot in size and weighs up to 20 pounds.

Different Species of Sturgeon and Their Size

There are currently four genera of extant sturgeon species and four extinct genera. The extant genera include Acipenser, Huso, Scaphirhynchus, and Pseudoscaphurhynchus.  

The extinct genera are Engdahlichthys, Protoscaphirhynchus, Priscosturion, and Anchiacipenser.

Now, let’s take a look below at the various species and their average length and weight as adults.

Sturgeon Comparison Table

SpeciesLengthWeight
Atlantic sturgeon (A. oxyrinchus oxyrinchus):12 to 16 feetUp to 800 pounds
White sturgeon (A. transmontanus):8 to 10 feetUp to 500 pounds
Siberian sturgeon (A. baerii):Up to 7 feetUp to 400 pounds
Diamond sturgeon (A. gueldenstaedtii):Up to 7 feetUp to 200 pounds
Beluga sturgeon (H. huso):10 to 28 feet600 to 3,500 pounds
Sterlet sturgeon (A. ruthenus):2 to 3 feet17 to 36 pounds
Shovelnose sturgeon (S. platorynchus):3 to 5 feetUp to 200 pounds
Stellate sturgeon (A. stellatus):Up to 7 feetUp to 200 pounds
Pallid sturgeon (S. albus):Up to 6 feetUp to 100 pounds
Shortnose sturgeon (A. brevirostrum):Up to 4.5 feetUp to 60 pounds
Lake sturgeon (A. fulvescens):Up to 7.25 feetUp to 240 pounds
Green sturgeon (A. medirostris):3.5 to 7 feetUp to 350 pounds
Kaluga sturgeon (H. dauricus):Up to 18.6 feetUp to 2,205 pounds
Alabama sturgeon (S. suttkusi):2.3 to 3 feet3 to 20 pounds
Japanese sturgeon (A. schrenckii):Up to 6 feetUp to 150 pounds
Yangtze sturgeon (A. dabryanus):5 to 8.2 feetUp to 990 pounds
Sakhalin sturgeon (A. mikadoi):Up to 8 feetUp to 330 pounds
Syr darya sturgeon (P. fedtschenkoi):1 foot4 to 20 pounds
Dwarf sturgeon (P. hermanni):1 foot3 to 20 pounds
Bastard sturgeon (A. nudiventris):Up to 6 feetUp to 300 pounds
Chinese sturgeon (A. sinensis):6.6 to 16.4 feet440 to 1,100 pounds

Sturgeon Fish Size Comparison

In comparison to many other species of ray-finned fish, sturgeon are considered medium to large in size. The beluga sturgeon is one of the largest predatory fishes on earth and one of the world’s largest freshwater fish, followed by the Kaluga sturgeon. The beluga sturgeon’s massive size is similar to the size of four king mattresses in a row, and its weight is similar to that of some large sharks. Beluga sturgeons mature and grow over decades because they can live up to 100 years. Therefore, the younger sturgeons won’t be as impressively sized.

One of the smaller species of sturgeon, the shovelnose, only grows a few feet in length. Sterlet sturgeons are even smaller, reaching 1 foot in length. This is the same adult size as some goldfish!

The Largest Sturgeon Ever Recorded

A picture of a beluga sturgeon in the dark green waters.

The beluga or great sturgeon is the largest-growing sturgeon in the world.

©Olga Alper/Shutterstock.com

It is believed that the largest sturgeon ever recorded in the world was a female beluga. She weighed a whopping 23 feet and 7 inches at her time of capture, with a weight of 3,463 pounds. This female beluga sturgeon was captured in 1827 from the Volga Delta in Europe. Some of the largest sturgeons across the world have been female. This has led many to believe that female sturgeons grow larger than males.

As of recent, a 6 feet and 10 inches long lake sturgeon was caught by biologists of the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (AFWCO) from the Detroit River in Michigan. This sturgeon weighed 240 pounds and took around three people to haul it onto the boat. Fortunately, this old fish was released back into the water after being measured for its size and tagged.

Can You Fish for Sturgeon?

According to the IUCN, sturgeon fish are more endangered than many other groups of fish, and around 63% of the total species are listed as critically endangered. Certain species of sturgeon like the beluga are caught for their roe, which is enjoyed as a delicacy and one of the finest in the world.

There are several species of sturgeon that face possible extinction and declining numbers because of overfishing and habitat loss. This makes it crucial to fish responsibly if you plan to catch sturgeon within the United States and other parts of the world. Be sure to check with wildlife officials whether the sturgeon species you plan to catch is legal and not considered endangered. It is important to follow up on the catch-and-release rules in your area when fishing for sturgeon.

The Best Time and Place to Catch Sturgeon

An image of a white Sturgeon species that has been caught on a boat.

White sturgeon are quite popular amongst anglers in the United States.

©CSNafzger/Shutterstock.com

Catching sturgeons can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many anglers. While seasoned anglers might be able to catch these fish at depths of 16 to 29 feet, a depth of 4 feet might be better for novice fishermen. Since sturgeon are mostly active during the night and you might have more luck fishing for them in the evenings or overnight.

Sturgeons can be found at the bottom of rivers and lakes and in estuaries close to coastal rivers in the United States. Places such as the Hudson River in New York are great to start fishing for white sturgeon because of the high numbers found there. Alternatively, you can also fish for white sturgeons in the Potomac River in Maryland and in the St. Johns River in Florida. It also seems that white sturgeon spawn near the Buffalo Harbor quite often, so you might catch some there too. Additionally, many anglers have been able to catch lake sturgeon from the Rainy River in Minnesota. In places like Idaho, Hells Canyon Dam contains some decently sized sturgeon.

Some of the best places to fish for sturgeons are along the Columbia River and its estuaries. It can be noted that white sturgeon are considered one of the largest freshwater fish in North America, and a particularly large fish to catch.

FAQ

1. How Big Do Sturgeons Get?

The average size for adult sturgeon species is around 7 to 12 feet in length. These adults will have an approximate weight of 400 to 800 pounds. The size of a sturgeon is species dependent. Because they are long-lived fish, it can take decades for some species to reach their adult size. Unfortunately, overfishing and habitat degradation is causing many sturgeons to die prematurely.

2. What is the Biggest Species of Sturgeon?

The beluga or great sturgeon is currently the largest of the sturgeon species. They can reach a total length of 28 inches and weigh over 3,500 pounds. Most female sturgeons are considered larger in comparison to males, but there are still a significant number of large male sturgeons.

3. What is the Smallest Species of Sturgeon?

The sterlet sturgeon is one of the smallest species of sturgeon. For instance, they reach a length of 1 foot, and only weigh only a couple of pounds.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tatiana Belova/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Sarah is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering aquatic pets, rodents, arachnids, and reptiles. Sarah has over 3 years of experience in writing and researching various animal topics. She is currently working towards furthering her studies in the animal field. A resident of South Africa, Sarah enjoys writing alongside her pets and almost always has her rats perched on her shoulders.

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