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September 4, 2022

The paddlefish is an elongated fish that is related to the sturgeon and has remained relatively unchanged for about 300 million years. Considered a living fossil, scientists believe it evolved to its present-day form during the Early Cretaceous period.

The paddlefish belongs to the order Acipenseriformes and the family Polyodontidae. It is characterized by its elongated body and long paddlelike snout, from which it gets its name and which makes it easy for it to gather zooplankton, its main source of food.

Fun Facts

  • During its embryonic stages, the paddlefish doesn't have its characteristic snout. It doesn't start developing until after it has hatched.
  • Paddlefish normally feed on zooplankton but are also known to eat small fish, insects, and larvae.
  • Paddlefish are considered to be filter feeders, which means it only opens its mouth and waits for zooplankton to enter. Once its mouth is full, its gill rakes separate the food from the water, allowing it to swallow its prey.
  • Today, paddlefish life can be found in the rivers and lakes of North America. It was once also found in China, but it has now become extinct.
  • The paddlefish doesn't have good eyesight, so it relies on electroreceptors on its snout to find food.
  • The paddlefish has undergone only a few evolutionary changes since it first appeared in the fossil record of the Early Cretaceous, which is why scientists consider it to be a primitive fish.
  • Because paddlefish roe can be used as caviar, similar to that of sturgeons, their numbers declined severely, which is why there are no restrictions on its capture.
  • Paddlefish can live for up to 60 years and don't start spawning until they are 7 to 10 years old.


  1. Peter Noyes

    Thank you very much for that valuable information. I knew what a Paddlefish was but learned a lot from reading the article. I remember from many years ago watching people snag them at Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky.

  2. Ellen J. Miller

    Very interesting. I would feel sad if they became extinct. Thank you for the information!


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