Aquaria Central ..................................Sterlet


Acipenser ruthenus
Other names:...........none
Origin:......................Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Baltic Sea, Sea of Azov
Max size:..................49"
PH:............-..............6.9-7.4
Temperature:...........50-74 F.
Min tank size:..........180 gallons
Food:.........................small live foods, pellets

Sterlets are true sturgeons, a primitive group of fishes characterized by their cartilaginous skeletons and rows of heavy plates along the flanks and dorsal surface. Sterlets are most unusual to see in the aquarium and attract a great deal of interest. The snout is long and the mouth is located on its underside. The fish has a tail like that of a shark, where the backbone continues into the top lobe, which is longer than the bottom lobe.

To locate food, the Sterlet uses its four barbels, located right in front of the mouth. Because of how sensitive these barbels are, soft and sandy gravel is a must. Favorite foods include insect larvae, tubifex worms and snails. This fish is a gentle giant and will generally leave other tankmates alone. However, it should not be trusted with small, bite-sized fish.

The Sterlet is a hardy fish, and will adjust to aquarium conditions quite nicely. During the summer, the temperature may be allowed to rise to 74 degress F, but it generally should be kept between 54 and 65 degrees F. If the temperature rises higher than 70 degrees, the oxygen level will become low, and an extra source of oxygen is required. A pump or powerhead will provide this quite nicely. Good water current is essential to this fish's health, as is clean and clear water, so a powerful filtration system is a must.

Sterlets won't spawn in the home aquarium, but in nature the fish breeds in May and June and produce 11,000-135,000 eggs. Sexing information is unknown. The name Sterlet refers to the small bony stars found in the skin. These fish have a life expectancy of 100 years or more.

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