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Name and Code
Polyodontidae - paddlefishes
Polyodon spathula
Taxonomic Authority
(Walbaum, 1792)
Common Name(s)
French Name
Family TSN
Parent TSN
Species TSN
Conservation Status
Global Rank (GRank)
G4 (2012-08-07)
National Rank (NRank)
NX (2008-05-05)
Provincial Rank (SRank)
SX (1988-11-22)
Extirpated (Apr 2008)
SARO Status
AFS Status
Vulnerable (1,2)
Ecological Value
Ontario Origin
General Abundance
Economic Importance
Habitat and Feeding
General Habitat(s)
lacustrine; riverine
Trophic Class
Thermal Regime
Habitat Preference
quiet, slow-flowing, often silty, open waters of large rivers and floodplain lakes
Reproductive Guild
Nonguarders: Open substratum spawners: Litho-pelagophils
Spawning Habitat(s)
Spawning Season
Spawning Month(s)
Spawning Temperature (°C)
Nursery Habitat(s)
Size and Age
Adult Length (cm)
89.0-150.5 TL
Adult Weight (kg)
Age at Maturity (yrs)
7-10 (m); 14-17 (f)
Maximum Length (cm)
223.5 TL
Maximum Weight (kg)
Lifespan (yrs)
16 (m); 26 (f)
Ontario Range Map
Paddlefish range
Ontario Distribution
formerly occurred in Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Spanish River and Nipigon River (Lake Helen); last reported from Ontario in 1917
Paddlefish photograph
female spawning interval of 4-7 years
Ontario Records
Record Length (cm)
Record Weight (kg)
Information Sources
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Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Press. Madison, WI. xii + 1052 pp.
Carlander, K.D. 1969. Handbook of freshwater fishery biology. Volume one. Life history data on freshwater fishes of the United States and Canada, exclusive of the Perciformes. Iowa State University Press. Ames, IA. vi + 752 pp.
Coad, B.W. with H. Waszczuk and I. Labignan. 1995. Encyclopedia of Canadian fishes. Museum of Nature and Canadian Sportfishing Productions. Ottawa and Waterdown, ON. viii + 928 pp.
Cooper, E.L. 1983. Fishes of Pennsylvania and the northeastern United States. Pennsylvania State University Press. University Park and London. vii + 243 pp.
COSEWIC. 2008. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Paddlefish Polydon spathula in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vi + 20 pp.
COSEWIC. 2017. Canadian wildlife species at risk. October 2017. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Gatineau, QC. iv + 119 pp.
Cudmore-Vokey, B. and E.J. Crossman. 2000. Checklists of the fish fauna of the Laurentian Great Lakes and their connecting channels. Can. MS Rpt. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2550:v+39p.
Ditz, K and M. Croft-White. 2013. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources fish species codes & common names. Ichthyology and Herpetology, Royal Ontario Museum. May 1994. Reformatted and revised by M. Croft-White, 2013.
Etnier, D.A. and W.C. Starnes. 1993. The fishes of Tennessee. [2nd printing, 2001]. The University of Tennessee Press. Knoxville, TN. xiv + 689 pp.
Goldstein, R.M. and T.P. Simon. 1999. Toward a united definition of guild structure for feeding ecology of North American freshwater fishes. Pages 123-202 in T.P. Simon [Ed]. Assessing the sustainability and biological integrity of water resources using fish communities. CRC Press. Boca Raton, FL. xx + 671 pp.
Hubbs, C.L. and K.F. Lagler. 1964. Fishes of the Great Lakes region. University of Michigan Press. Ann Arbor, MI. xv + 213 pp.
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Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). 2014. On-line database. (, accessed 07 June 2014.
Jelks, H.L., S.J. Walsh, N.M. Burkhead, S. Contreras-Balderas, E. Díaz-Pardo, D.A. Hendrickson, J. Lyons, N.E. Mandrak, F. McCormick, J.S. Nelson, S.P. Platania, B.A. Porter, C.B. Renaud, J. J. Schmitter-Soto, E.B. Taylor, and M.L. Warren, Jr. 2008. Conservation status of imperiled North American freshwater and diadromous fishes. Fisheries 33(8):372-407.
Jenkins, R.E. and N.M. Burkhead. 1993. Freshwater fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society. Bethesda, MD. xxiii + 1079 pp.
Lee, D.S., C.R. Gilbert, C.H. Hocutt, R.E. Jenkins, D.E. McAllister, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History Publication 1980-12. Raleigh, NC. x + 867 pp.
Mandrak, N.E. and E.J. Crossman. 1992. A checklist of Ontario freshwater fishes annotated with distribution maps. Royal Ontario Museum Life Sciences Miscellaneous Publication. Toronto, ON. v + 176 pp.
McAllister, D.E., B.J. Parker, and P.M. McKee. 1985. Rare, endangered and extinct fishes in Canada. Syllogeus 54. National Museum of Natural Sciences. Ottawa, ON. 192 pp.
NatureServe. 2016. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe. Arlington, Virginia. (, accessed 11 June 2016.
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF). 2015. Species at risk in Ontario (SARO) list. (, updated October 1, 2015.
Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr. 2011. Peterson field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico, second edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Boston, MA. xix + 663 pp.
Page, L.M., H. Espinosa-Pérez, L.T. Findley, C.R. Gilbert, R.N. Lea, N.E. Mandrak, R.L. Mayden, and J.S. Nelson. 2013. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. 7th Edition. American Fisheries Society, Spec. Publ. 34. Bethesda, MD. 243 pp.
Parker, B. 1988. Status of the Paddlefish, Polyodon spathula in Canada. Can. Field-Nat. 102(2):291-295.
Phillips, G.L., W.D. Schmid, and J.C. Underhill. 1982. Fishes of the Minnesota region. University of Minnesota Press. Minneapolis, MN. x + 248 pp.
Ross, S.T. 2001. The inland fishes of Mississippi. University Press of Mississippi. xx + 624 pp.
Scott, W.B. 1967. Freshwater fishes of eastern Canada, second edition. University of Toronto Press. Toronto, ON. xii + 137 pp.
Scharpf, C. 2005. Annotated checklist of North American freshwater fishes, including subspecies and undescribed forms. Part I: Petromyzontidae through Cyprinidae. American Currents 31(4):1-44.
Simon, T.P. 1999. Assessment of Balon’s reproductive guilds with application to midwestern North American freshwater fishes. Pages 97-122 in T.P. Simon [Ed]. Assessing the sustainability and biological integrity of water resources using fish communities. CRC Press. Boca Raton, FL. xx + 671 pp.
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Wallus, R., B.L. Yeager, and T.P. Simon. 1990. Reproductive biology and early life history of fishes in the Ohio River drainage. Volume 1. Acipenseridae through Esocidae. Tennessee Valley Authority. Chattanooga, TN. vii + 273 pp.
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