Fish Identification Guide

Shovelnose Sturgeon
Scaphirhynchus platorynchus
Illustrations by Joe Tomelleri
Description: Primitive fish having several rows of thorny scales or plates and 4 barbels near its mouth which is located far back under the flattened, shovel-shaped snout. Barbels are fringed and lower lip has 4 lobes. Bases of outer barbels in line with or ahead of bases of inner barbels and belly is covered with small plates (except in young). In Nebraska, if a sturgeon weighs more than four pounds, it most likely is a pallid sturgeon. It is our most abundant sturgeon and is often caught by anglers. It feeds on the bottom, utilizing its barbels to locate food and protrusible mouth to suck up food items. Larvae of aquatic insects (primarily mayflies, true flies (Diptera), and caddisflies) make up the bulk of its diet.
Family: Sturgeon
Type: Sport Fish
Range: Missouri River and lower portions of major tributary streams/rivers.

Source: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission website at