Scaphirhynchus Conference: Alabama, Pallid, and Shovelnose Sturgeon

St. Louis, Missouri, 11-13 January 2005


Herb Bollig, Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery, 31227 436th Avenue, Yankton, South Dakota 57078-6364; Phone 605-665-3352;

The pallid sturgeon was determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be an endangered species and was provided federal protection on 6 September, 1990.  A Pallid Sturgeon Recovery Plan was approved on 7 November 1993, and a Pallid Sturgeon Propagation/Genetics Plan was completed on 22 January 1993.  The short term goal is to prevent extinction of the species in the wild.  This goal may only be possible through propagation in hatcheries.  Over the last nearly 13 years pallid sturgeon adults ranging in size from under 10 lbs. to 66.0 lbs. have been captured from the upper basin section of the Missouri River.  A post capture injection of oxytetracycline (10 ppm) is administered in the dorsal musculature of each sturgeon to minimize systemic bacterial infections.  Fish are hauled in 0.5 % saltwater solution.  Relative weights of the fish have generally been quite low at capture (60-83).  Prior to spawning the fish are held in 20' diameter circular fiberglass tanks and fed a live fish diet due to their predatory feeding habits.  Sexing and biopsy (cathetorization) work has been completed on the adult pallids at the hatchery to determine egg stage and maturation of oocytes.  Spawning has occurred at the Gavins Point NFH, SD; Garrison Dam NFH, ND; and Miles City SFH, MT, with good results.  Juvenile pallid and shovelnose sturgeon (and their hybrids) have been reared with good growth and survival achieving up to 2.0+ inches of growth per month, and temperature units/inch gain ranging between 30 and 50.  Density and flow indices are very low.  Both juveniles and adults are sensitive to handling and the temperature regime used during the intensive culture regime.  Bacterial and fungal infections can be a problem in adults, but less prevalent in juveniles.  Juveniles pallids less than 1 year old have had moderate to heavy infections of an iridovirus that is endemic to the Scaphirhynchus species and can be a difficult problem to surmount during the early rearing process (~ 5 months old).  The Gavins Point NFH has stocked larger-sized fingerling in the Missouri River from above Fort Peck reservoir in Montana all the way down to near its confluence with the Mississippi River in Missouri.  Monitoring and evaluation of hatchery-reared pallid sturgeon indicates that they have had good growth and survival after stocking.  Public outreach and research have been completed on the Missouri River sturgeon species.  The Gavins Point NFH has three large buildings devoted to the culture of the pallid sturgeon, including the most recently constructed 210' X 110' facility funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will be used for advanced rearing and future broodstock holding.