Re: NANFA-- chinese paddlefish

Christopher Scharpf (
Tue, 02 Apr 2002 23:29:38 -0400


There's a small b&w photo of the Chinese paddlefish in the textbook, THE
DIVERSITY OF FISHES (p. 213). It has a sword-like rostrum and a protrusible
mouth (like sturgeons). Its fewer thicker gill rakers resemble those of
sturgeons. It grows to over 3 m and 700 kg. It feeds primarily on small
pelagic and benthic fishes.

There are color photos of the Chinese paddlefish in the book FRESHWATER
them here for a week or so:

The book is in Chinese so I can't give any details about the photos.

I have a copy of a 1997 paper by Wei et al., "Biology, fisheries, and
conservation of sturgeons and paddlefish in China," Env. Biol. Fish. 48:
241-255. According to this paper:

* The species is primarily threatened by hydroelectric dams that block free
passage to spawning and feeding areas.

* Since 1988, only 3-10 adult paddlefishes have been found below Geshouba

* Limited spawning still exists above this dam, but when the massive Three
Gorges Dam is completed (in 2009?), it will further threaten the paddlefish.

* Artificial propagation appears to be the only hope for preventing its
extinction, but it has yet (1997) to be successfully bred in captivity. [I
know that some American paddlefish culturists are helping Chinese
scientists. Jan, do you know more about this?]

* Detailed biological investigations are impossible because the fish is so

* Migration patterns and spawning sites are unknown, but it is presumably
anadromous. [Which could make breeding them in a lake problematic.]

* Catching broodstock for a captive breeding program is difficut because the
fish is so rare. Moreover, captive ripe males and females have never been
available at the same time.

* Adults are difficult to keep in captivity; the authors of this paper have
been unable to hold brood fish for more than a month.

Chris Scharpf

> All I have found so far is just a few scraps of info that really don't
> connect well. Like the Chinese paddle fish is a predator not a filter feeder,
> it's paddle is cone shaped instead of flat and that the Chinese import a
> great many North American paddlefish fry and eyed eggs for some reason not
> explained. I have spent hours looking for an illustration but no luck. If
> there was ever an ecosystem that needed to be preserved by captive breeding
> the ecosystem containing the endangered fish, reptiles and mammals the region
> in question has to be it. Dolphins, dwarf alligators, and many rare fish.
> Most of these animals are temperent zone animals so maybe a large lake in
> North America could be used to house and help breed them. I know that is a
> crazy idea but one day they will be missed. From what I have been able to
> find out the Three Gorges Dam (that might not be the exact name) project is
> queuing up to be the largest unnatural disaster on record but the Chinese
> haven't consulted me as of yet ;-) But if wishes were fishes!
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