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Pallid sturgeon on display at Billings store

Pallid sturgeon on display at Billings store
Posted at 10:09 AM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 12:10:41-05

BILLINGS — Next time you visit Cabela’s in Billings, make sure to stop by the aquarium in the back and visit some new scaly friends.

Cabela’s this week added three pallid sturgeons to its in-store aquarium. Because the fish are on the endangered species list, they're a rare sight to see, even in captivity.

After 10 months of filing paperwork with local and federal agencies, Cabela’s was finally able to obtain the fish.

In true 2021 fashion, the pallid sturgeons had to quarantine for 30 days in a separate aquarium in the back of Cabela’s before they could be introduced into the main aquarium with the other fish.

Store managers say they are extremely grateful to have the fish and are dedicated to advocating for the species' future.

From the Montana Field Guide:

The Pallid Sturgeon is the larger of the two species of sturgeon found east of the Continental Divide. Both sturgeon species, Pallid and Shovelnose, co-occur in the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. Pallid sturgeons have a unique dinosaur-like appearance and have been swimming around since the dinosuars. They have a flattened snout, long slender tail and are armored with lengthwise rows of bony plates instead of scales. Their mouth is toothless and positioned under the snout for sucking small fishes and invertebrates from the river bottom. Pallid sturgeon can weigh up to 80 pounds and grow to about 6 feet long.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website states: "Pallid sturgeon are bottom dwelling, slow growing fish that feed primarily on small fish and immature aquatic insects. This species of sturgeon is seldom seen and is one of the least understood fish in the Missouri and Mississippi River drainages. It is an ancient species that has existed since the days of the dinosaurs."