Without doubt sturgeon are most over sold fish on the planet. A bold statement but I have heard they cure every thing from blanket weed to being vacuum cleaners.
Well as most of you have noticed sturgeon are not any of these.
This page is a basic guide to sturgeon. Most of these items are mentioned on other pages but it seems people are unable to find it ( What I mean is people don't want to look for it, they want to know NOW so here it is ). I would suggest you read the rest of the site as it will give a more detailed covering of the subjects.
Sturgeon need proper food.( Not wheat germ or Cereal based foods. )
Well oxygenated water. Use an airpump through out the summer months to back up the main pump.
Filtered water ( unless in a lake)
A large pond minimum 1000 gallons ( 5000litres) for sterlets.
For other species minimum 2000 gallons.
A back up pump in case of main pump failure.
Strong chemicals, formalin, BKC, ( These can be used at a lower dose than you would for Koi, except Formalin with Diamond sturgeon as they generally die a week after treatment ).
Low oxygen, they will die long before other fish, so no ' the other fish are OK' this does not work with sturgeon .
Lack of food, they bend in half and either lie on the bottom or somes times float. If they have got this far it's to late.
Warm weather, this lowers the oxygen level .
Direct sun light, they are dusk till dawn creatures and like the dark best. So have some shade for the fish to shelter under.
Nearly all problems are either food or oxygen related, so rather obviously :
Always make sure the oxygen levels are good. ( Buy a test kit they are not expensive. )
Use the correct food.
The tell tail signs are:
Fish bends in half. Lack of food , to late time to start digging a grave.
Fish spends all its time bobbing up and down around the edge of the pond. ( Its starving )
Fish follows other fish and tries to suck mucus of the fish. ( Its Starving.)
This is rather easy the sturgeon become lethargic, and die !
Buy an air pump !
Sturgeon in Aquariums : NO !!!!!! They are not suitable and should not be kept in aquariums or small tanks.
How to feed your sturgeon.
Spring. Sturgeon like any fish become more active in spring as the temperature rises and will need an increase in food, feed alittle and often best times dawn and dusk.
Summer , Sturgeon will be feeding very well in summer so make sure the food is avaliable and the rest of the fish are well fed.
Autumn. Sturgeon will be fattening up for the winter so keep the food going in but watch out and remove uneaten food.
Winter. Feed a few pellets at a time and wait until eaten, before adding more . Sturgeon will feed down to 4C it is very important that you feed them in winter, most sturgeon die due to starvation in winter.
Sturgeon and the Cold. Will sturgeon survive our winters ?
With names like siberian sturgeon , Russian sturgeon this should give it away. Cold is not a problem they will tolerate much colder weather than we will ever get.
This artice was reproduced with the kind permission of Graham of Orchard Fisheries
The Sterlet is probably the slowest growing and therefore the best species for the garden pond. It 'only ' grows to 1.2m in the wild, but usually 60-90 cm in the average pond. It is easy to distinguish from the Siberian sturgeon as it has white edge to the pectoral (front) fins. When young it also has a white line along the back and down both sides. While it is slow growning it one of the easiest sturgeon to keep, and is the most tollerant of pond 'problems'. A good fish for the beginner.
It is from the same family of sturgeon, as the stellatus, siberian, Italian and diamond sturgeon.
Often sold as "Dwarf Sterlets", they are true sturgeon, Sterlets can reach 1.2m and 16 kg in weight.
The Albino Sterlet is ideal for a pond due to the maximum size of 60 - 80cm being reached only over a long period of time.
The Siberian Sturgeon. Acipenser baerii
The Siberian is the most common species seen for sale, it is easier to breed than other species and it grows very quickly with very few health problems. Reaches a maximum length of 2m ( 6'6" ) and 200 kg in the wild. In ponds 1.2m and 15 - 20 kg is about the maximum. This fish grows very quickly and will out grow the average pond. The skin is brownish grey to black in colour and the ventral (under side) is whiteish, sometimes with grey spots.
The Silver Siberian is seen for sale occasionally and if you can afford it makes a very beautiful silver grey specimen.
A good fish for the larger pond as it grows very quickly and is hardy . It will go with bigger fish with out any problems and is not a threat to other smaller fish.
The Diamond Sturgeon. Acipenser gueldensaedtii
Often sold as a hybrid but is a true species. It can reach 2.3m and 110 kg in the wild but 1.25 m and 15 kg is nearer the mark in ponds. It grows very quickly, only second in growth rate to the Beluga. Very pretty when small but often loses it's white pattern to become a grey / black colour.
It is the most popular sturgeon seen for sale, but is not really suitable for small ponds, minimum pond should be 2000 gallons (9000 litres).
Not suitable for aquariums.
Does not tolerate low oxygen or temperatures over 25C very well at all.
Extra oxygenation in the summer months is a must.
Will not tolerate strong treatments such as formalin.
The Beluga or Great Sturgeon
This is the largest growing sturgeon species.( More than 9m ( 29'4" ) and 1400 kg has been recorded, although the average size in the wild is now only 57 kg due to excessive hunting for caviar. It grows very quickly and is only suitable for very large ponds. Skin colour is steel-blue to grey / black , with a slightly lighter ventral. With white to cream bony scutes down the back. A favourate of mine, I do get some now and then, if you would like one please let me know. ( PS start saving for the food bill ).
Mixing with small fish can be a problem if you don't feed them, also a fondness for wild fowl can upset the local ecology.
Unless you have space don't buy one.
Pond size a minimum of 15,000 gallons ( 70,000 litres)
Require plenty of oxygen so an air pump system is a must.
Not good with smaller fish / animals as it lives by one rule
'If it fits in my mouth I can eat it'
Hybrid sturgeon as with many animals are bred to get the best from both parents, and hopefully leaving the bad behind. A very common sturgeon hybrid is a Bester which is a cross between a Beluga and a Sterlet. This hybrid offers the growth of the Beluga and the early age of sexual maturity from the Sterlet ( the good ) and it leaves behind the bad, the Beluga's cannibalistic tendencies and the slow growth and poor caviar of the sterlet.
All sturgeon species can be crossed with each other, but not all all fertile.
Other hybrids often seen are:
- Siberian x Diamond.
- Siberian x Sterlet.
- Diamond x Sterlet.
- Italian x Diamond.
Also called the Starry Sturgeon.
A very easy to recognise sturgeon as the nose/head is up to a 25% of the total length of the fish. With blueish to black skin and a white - cream ventral ( underside) and very pronounced scutes ( the boney plates on the skin ) that are a yellowish - white colour. Better looking than Diamond sturgeon, and keeps its colour when older unlike the diamond.
It will grow to a maximum size of 1.5-1.8m and 35 kg but in a large pond 1m and 5 kg is the more achievable size. Better suited to the smaller pond than a diamond sturgeon.
Very keen swimmer, never really stops, needs space to swim.
Can jump out so make sure there is a net or barrier to stop them falling out ! They like swimming so big ponds with good current will keep this fish feeding and in good health.
Requires high oxygen levels.
Once very rare, they are a number of breeders now, a must for the sturgeon collector.