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Sturgeon fish in the fish pond - Care and Tips

There are many species of fish that are available for purchase in the aquatic stores and garden centres which are suitable for habiting a fish pond, the most notable has to be the common goldfish or Koi carp but some species stand out for me and this includes the family of fish known as sturgeons and their close relations, namely the sterlets or beluga. They seem to have evolved very little over the generations, they are a strange looking bony fish with no scales but I always have a special place in my heart for them as to me they have a fascination factor that no other fish can rival, this of course is my own opinion but there are many keepers that agree with me.

Often they are sold with little advice offered on caring for them and sadly this can lead to them leading shorter lives, some may become stunted due to lack of space so hopefully this article will help to explain a few facts and ensure that the commitment involved in keeping these fish is suited for you and your fish pond.

The origins of the Sturgeon fish go way back as fossilised remains have been found from 200 million years ago and the fossilised fish still look very similar to today's fish. They belong to the family of Acipenseridae of which there are twenty true species, as stated above they are a scale-less fish but they are covered with bony plates and look like some prehistoric monster from the movies to some people. Some species are true freshwater fish but most will only spawn in freshwater and then migrate to coastal estuaries and enjoy live in brackish conditions.

Sadly some species are on the endangered species list due to overfishing and pollution, conservation efforts are doing what they can to prevent the total loss of some of these fish but, as with many other species, sometimes this can be very frustrating work.

As most of us know, their eggs are a delicacy when sold as caviar so farms have been created to harvest the eggs but they are a slow growing family of fish so wild specimens mature later in life, the loss of juveniles from outside forces has a great effect on their population.

Keeping sturgeon fish in the fish pond is not too difficult as long as a few basic rules are followed. The main question that you have to ask yourself is, will my fish pond be large enough to house one of these fish?

Some species can grow to 7 feet in length, other species even larger so space has to be provided, generally if your fish pond is large enough to house Koi fish then it should be large enough to house a single specimen of a sturgeon fish. Looking at the water volume involved, you will require at least 1000 gallons of water volume for the smaller species and they do produce a lot of waste so the filtration system needs to be able to cope with this, never ever add the sturgeon to a newly set up fish pond that hasn't cycled, it will just not work out for the fish. If you are planning on keeping the larger species of sturgeon then the water volume needs to increase accordingly, whichever you plump for, they all require well oxygenated water and they do not like direct sunlight on the fish pond, when this occurs they will stay at the lower levels to try to avoid it. You may need to add extra aeration to the fish pond by using an air pump and some form of water fall, with my pond I set the outlet of the filters above the water surface so as the water re-entered the fish pond it pulled oxygen in with it through the surface agitation and this seemed to work well without using an air pump.

The water quality in the fish pond needs to be kept high as they are sensitive to deteriorating water conditions and one symptom of poor water quality or low oxygen levels in the water is when the sturgeon fish starts to stay at the bottom of the fish pond and erratic swimming patterns can also be seen especially when they swim with an arched back. The arched back can also be a sign that the feeding regime of the surgeon fish may be lacking and this will be covered in more detail in the next few paragraphs.

Often chemicals are added to the fish pond as an anti-algal remedy, fish medications or even to keep the water clear. Always check that these are safe for the Sturgeon fish as they are likely to have an adverse reaction and die off quickly with some treatments, stay away from treatments that contain formalin.

Feeding the Sturgeon fish

The next section may seem a bit complicated at first but after a while you will soon realise that it is no more complicated than feeding Koi Carp for example, sturgeon fish have special dietary needs which must be met to keep them healthy. Like Koi Carp, the feeding methods change with the seasons or to be more precise with the rise and fall of the water temperature in the fish pond. The big difference is that sturgeon fish require some food during the winter months. They originate from cold climates so unlike other pond fish they do not shut down during the winter, they do slow down but energy expelled will need replacing with small meals ( usually a few pellets) daily to keep them going, starving them in the winter will lead to them passing away.

In the spring the feeds should increase, rather than feed more in each session, feed the same amount but more often, this should prevent any food being left uneaten. The Summer months are when the fish are at their most active and like all pond fish, the sturgeon will demand more food than at any other time of the year as more energy is used with the higher metabolism.

In the autumn the feeds must continue but as they start to require less, remove any uneaten food and gradually reduce the amount that you are offering.

But which food should we be feeding the Sturgeon fish?

It is very important to supply the correct diet , sturgeon fish require proteins, carbohydrates and fats along with vitamins to remain healthy with a strong immune system, sadly for the sturgeon they are not the quickest of movers and their eyesight is not that good, often the food is in the fish pond without them realising at first. Feed the other pond fish before you add the sturgeon food, I found the best time to feed the sturgeon was at daybreak and dusk. The sturgeon should pick up on the scent of the food in a few minutes and start to eagerly consume it, if you see the sturgeon becoming thinner then they are not eating properly and this is usually a result of poor water quality.

There are many commercial foods on the market designed specifically for sturgeon fish, cheaper is not better, quality food is more expensive but more importantly, more beneficial to your fish. Pellet food is the most popular variety and these are graded in size in comparison to the size of the sturgeon that you are feeding, the smaller the fish the smaller the pellets and vice versa.

Hopefully this article will have answered a few questions for you and aided you as to whether your fish pond is suitable or not, treat the sturgeon with loving care and they will live for many years to give you lots of pleasure in your hobby!

Question left on 8.11.2012 at 13:42:19 by Steven Prusky


I found your site and hope you can help me regarding pond sturgeon.

I live in Philadelphia, and have a 3-tiered pond, about 10,000 gallons or more, up to four feet deep.

I have not had success with sturgeon previously, as I think they were eaten by turtles in my lower pond, and birds in my upper ponds. I have a line on some bigger sturgeon (7" and 8"), and it is getting cold here, so the pond(s) are covered in netting and the turtles are hibernating at the bottom (and the other fish -- Koi, hi-fins, and golden orbs -- are quiet and not being fed), so I thought I might try again.

If I put them in now, as temperatures go down to the 30s and 40s (1-10 Celsius), and then lower as winter progresses, do you think they'll be OK? If so, how often should I feed them? And how much for how long?

I'm looking to get about half a dozen sturgeon.

Thanks for your help
-Steven Prusky
Answer by staff: Whenever I have added sturgeons to my pond I preferred to add them in the spring as the water temperature just starts to increase. Doing it this way gives me a few months to build up the fish with a healthy diet of quality sturgeon pellets giving them a higher success rate through the winter months when they stop eating altogether.

I fed mine twice a day making sure that they actually got the pellets before the fish, sinking pellets seem to be better for the sturgeon overall.
Question left on Mon, 13 Jul 2015 at 10:35:43 -0700 by Brian Placek

Will sturgeon eat the eggs or offspring of my koi?

How do you make sure the other fish do not eat the sturgeon's food in the winter or colder months that the koi should not eat. My koi would probably eat at any time of year even though it is bad for them.

Answer by staff:During winter months the Koi will drop to the bottom of the pond to seek the warmest waters but they are very inactive. As the cold winter months do not affect the sturgeon as much they will remain slightly active and should reach any food added before the Koi. Only feed sparingly and only feed when the fish is active.

You may lose some Koi eggs to the sturgeon but not enough to make a significant difference to the breeding of the Koi.