Classification / Names
Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa
Actinopteri (ray-finned fishes) > Acipenseriformes
(Sturgeons and paddlefishes) > Polyodontidae
Etymology: Polyodon: Greek, polys = a lot of + Greek, odous = teeth (Ref. 45335); spathula: Polyodon, many toothed, perhaps due to the numerous gill rakers because adult paddlefish lack teeth, although young fish has many small teeth, and spathula meaning spatula, due to its elongated snout (Ref. 79012). More on author: Walbaum.
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Freshwater; demersal; potamodromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 2 - ? m. Subtropical; 10°C - 18°C (Ref. 2060); 49°N - 29°N, 112°W - 77°W (Ref. 86798)
North America: Mississippi River basin from southwestern New York to Montana and south to Louisiana; Gulf Slope drainagaes from Mobile Bay in Alabama, to Galveston Bay in Texas, USA. Formerly in Great Lakes basin, probably extirpated. At least one country reports adverse ecological impact after introduction.
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 221 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 86798); common length : 120 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 12193); max. published weight: 90.7 kg (Ref. 3221); max. reported age: 55 years (Ref. 46974)
Snout long, canoe-paddle-shaped; gill cover with large, fleshy, pointed flap (Ref. 86798).
Usually inhabits water deeper than 1.2 m in slow-flowing large rivers, lakes, and impoundments (Ref. 86798). 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).
Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr, 2011. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 663p. (Ref. 86798)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 123251)
Fisheries: commercial; aquarium: public aquariums
Estimates based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 1.2500 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00646 (0.00431 - 0.00967), b=3.09 (2.98 - 3.20), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245
Trophic level (Ref. 69278
): 3.4 ±0.45 se; based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 120179
): Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (tm=6-9; tmax=30).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Very high vulnerability (85 of 100) .