A photo of a Paddlefish

About Paddlefish

This fish’s long, paddle-shaped snout accounts for about one-third of its total body length. The snout helps to stabilize the fish as it swims, and it also contains specialized cells that assist in detecting the plankton swarms upon which this species feeds. The skin is smooth. Small individuals are pink on the back and white on the venter; for larger individuals around 10 to 12 inches, the body color changes to bluish gray on the back and cream on the venter. The eyes are tiny compared to the rest of the head and body. On the underside of the snout are two minute barbels in front of a large, toothless mouth. When viewed through the mouth, the gills are large and show the many closely spaced filaments that trap microscopic food. On each side, a gill cover extends posteriorly, ending in a long, pointed flap. The skeleton is composed of cartilage rather than bone. The end of the vertebral column extends into the upper lobe of the heterocercal tail, much as a shark’s does. Adult size: 3.9 to 5.9 feet.

Common Names

Spoonbill Catfish

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