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Polyodon spathula  (Walbaum, 1792)

Mississippi paddlefish
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Polyodon spathula
Picture by Moreau, J.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Acipenseriformes (Sturgeons and paddlefishes) > Polyodontidae (Paddlefishes)
Etymology: Polyodon: Greek, polys = a lot of + Greek, odous = teeth (Ref. 45335);  spathula: From the words Poly, meaning many; don, tooth; and spathula, meaning blade or paddle (Ref. 10294).

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Freshwater; demersal; potamodromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 2 - ? m.   Temperate; 10°C - 18°C (Ref. 2060); 50°N - 30°N

Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 221 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 5723); common length : 120 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 12193); max. published weight: 90.7 kg (Ref. 3221); max. reported age: 55 years (Ref. 46974)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Snout long, canoe-paddle-shaped; gill cover with large, fleshy, pointed flap (Ref. 86798).

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

North America: Mississippi River system, including the Missouri River into Montana, the Ohio River, and their major tributaries. At least one country reports adverse ecological impact after introduction. International trade restricted (CITES II, since 11.6.92).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Inhabits slow-flowing water of large rivers, usually in water deeper than 1.3 m. Feeds on plankton. The extended upper jaw (= paddle) may help to channel plankton into the mouth. Threatened due to over harvesting, habitat loss and pollution (Ref. 58490).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea and W.B. Scott, 1991. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. Am. Fish. Soc. Spec. Pub. (20):183 p.

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 90363)

  Vulnerable (VU) (A3de)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Threat to humans

Human uses

Fisheries: commercial; aquarium: public aquariums
FAO(fisheries: production, species profile; publication : search) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

More information

Aquaculture profile
Allele frequencies
Mass conversion
Stamps, Coins
Swim. type
Gill area


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Internet sources

Estimates of some properties based on empirical models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 1.2500   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00316 (0.00126 - 0.00794), b=3.12 (2.90 - 3.34), based on LWR estimates for this Subfamily-BS (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  3.0   ±0.0 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (tm=6-9; tmax=30).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Very high vulnerability (85 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Unknown.