American Paddlefish

Pair of elevation illustrations of the American Paddlefish seen from the side and front

The American Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) is an anadromous fish found in both freshwater and brackish water bodies of North America. They are filter-feeders with late maturity, longer lifespan, and their roe is a commonly popular caviar. Male paddlefish are larger than females and all swim upstream to spawn. Besides, spawning is communal and they don’t build their nest.

The Paddlefish is also called spoonbill, shovelnose, and is the only living member of the family Polyodontidae. The paddlefish is a primitive fish since it has fewer morphological changes. They are identified by a broad paddle-like rostrum, small but poorly developed eyes, and smooth-skinned scaleless spindle-shaped body.

American Paddlefish have a total length between 5’-7’ (1.52-2.13 m), body height of 8.5”-11.5” (21.6-29.2 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 60-200 lb (27-91 kg). The typical lifespan of the American Paddlefish is 20-30 years.


*Under Development*

8.5”-11.5” | 21.6-29.2 cm
5’-7’ | 1.52-2.13 m
60-200 lb | 27-91 kg
Scientific Name:
Polyodon spathula
20-30 years


Drawings include:

American Paddlefish side elevation, front

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Freshwater fish are fish that spend some or all of their live in water with a salinity level lower than .05%. Freshwater fish, due to the segmented nature of ponds, lakes, and rivers, are subject to speciation similar to species on islands.