Sterlet Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

The Sterlet is a beautiful freshwater fish that is perfect for the home aquarium. They are peaceful, relatively easy to care for, and make a great addition to any community tank.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about Sterlet care. You’ll learn about their diet, size, lifespan, and more!

Species overview

Sterlets (scientific name: Acipenser ruthenus) are a species of freshwater sturgeon that are found throughout Eurasia. Their habitat ranges from the Black Sea all the way to Siberia, and they can even be found in some parts of Central Asia.

They prefer large rivers with a lot of vegetation and a moderate current. However, they are known to be very adaptable and can live in a wide range of different water conditions.

Sterlets are one of the smaller sturgeon species, only growing to be about 3-4 feet in length. However, they can live for a very long time – up to 60 years in the wild!

This fish is commonly consumed in Russia and other parts of Eurasia. However, it is also becoming increasingly popular in the aquarium trade.



The Sterlet is a freshwater fish that really looks like it belongs in the ocean. It has a long and slender body that’s silver in color with a black line running down the center of its back.

The sides of this fish are covered in small black spots. The fins on the Sterlet are also black except for the tips which are white.

The dorsal fin is tall and starts about two-thirds of the way back on the body. The anal fin is shorter but still quite tall and starts closer to the center of the fish. The caudal fin is forked and symmetrical.

The Sterlet also has a very long and thin snout. The mouth of this fish is located at the very end of the snout and is quite small.

The eyes of the Sterlet are silver with a black pupil.


The average lifespan of a Sterlet is around 15 years. This is a pretty long time for a fish and it really underscores the importance of giving them the best care possible.

Like all fish, there are a number of things that can impact the lifespan of a Sterlet. Poor water quality, stress, and a bad diet can all lead to a shorter life.

On the flip side, good care can help them live to a ripe old age. If you give them everything they need, it’s not uncommon for Sterlets to live well over 15 years.


The average Sterlet size is about 18 to 24 inches when fully grown. These fish can grow to be fairly large, so you’ll need to make sure you have a spacious tank for them to live in.


Tank Size

The Sterlet is a large freshwater fish that can reach up to three feet in length in the wild. In captivity, they typically max out at around two feet. As a result, you’re going to need a fairly large tank to keep them healthy and happy. The minimum recommended tank size for a Sterlet is 100 gallons.

If you want to keep more than one Sterlet in the same tank you’ll need to add at least another 100 gallons for each fish. While they can be kept in smaller groups, they are typically happier and healthier when kept in pairs or larger groups.

Water Parameters

The Sterlet is a freshwater fish that is native to large rivers in Europe and Asia. In the wild, they can be found in the Danube River, the Dnieper River, and the Volga River.

They prefer slow-moving waters with a lot of vegetation. The water temperature should be between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit and the pH should be between 6.5 and 7.5.

The Sterlet is a hardy fish that can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. However, it’s important to maintain consistency to ensure a long and healthy life.

  • Water Temperature: 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH Levels: 6.5-7.5
  • Water Hardness: 5-19 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 3-10 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

The Sterlet is a freshwater fish that’s native to Europe. In the wild, they can be found in large rivers like the Danube.

In terms of setting up their aquarium, you’ll want to mimic their natural habitat as much as possible. This means a large tank with plenty of space to swim and some plants to hide in.

The substrate you choose is important too. Sterlets are known to sift through the substrate in search of food. This means you’ll want something that won’t be too abrasive on their gills (like sand).

As for plants, you have a few different options. We recommend something that will provide them with plenty of cover (like water wisteria or hornwort). Java fern is another good choice since it can survive in a wide range of water conditions.

Rocks and driftwood are always a nice addition to any freshwater tank. Just be sure to avoid anything too sharp or jagged.

Common Diseases

The most common disease that affects sterlets is white sturgeon syndrome (WSS). This is a viral infection that can cause a variety of symptoms in your fish.

The most common symptom is the presence of white spots on the skin, but others include lethargy, appetite loss, and ulcers.

This disease is unfortunately incurable, and the only thing you can do is to humanely euthanize your fish if they are affected.

The best way to prevent this disease is to only purchase sterlets from a reputable breeder or dealer. This will help to ensure that your fish are healthy and free of any diseases.

You should also quarantine new fish before adding them to your main tank. This will help to stop the spread of any diseases if any of your new fish are sick.

Behavior & Temperament

The Sterlet is a peaceful fish that is relatively easy to care for. It is a slow swimmer that spends most of its time in the middle to lower levels of the tank.

The Sterlet is a bottom feeder that will eat most anything that falls to the bottom of the tank, including algae, plants, and small invertebrates.

Sterlets are schooling fish and do best when kept in groups of 3 or more. They are shy fish that may be intimidated by larger, more active fish.

The Sterlet is not an aggressive fish, but it may nip at the fins of long-finned fish.

Tank Mates

Sterlets are bottom-dwelling fish, so they do best with tank mates that occupy different areas of the water column.

This will give everyone plenty of room to swim and explore without running into each other all the time.

It’s also important to find fish that can tolerate colder water since Sterlets prefer cooler temperatures.

Some compatible tank mates for Sterlets include:

  • Goldfish
  • Koi
  • Rainbowfish
  • Barbs
  • Danios
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Ghost Shrimp


The Sterlet is a freshwater fish that is native to Europe. It is a member of the Acipenseridae family, which includes other well-known fish such as the sturgeon. The Sterlet is the smallest member of this family.

The Sterlet is a relatively easy fish to breed in captivity. The first step is to set up a suitable breeding environment. Sterlets need clean water with a high oxygen content. They also need plenty of hiding places. Driftwood, rocks, and plants can all be used for this purpose.

Once the breeding tank is set up, you will need to add a pair of Sterlets. It is best to add one male and one female, but you can also add two males if you cannot find a female. The male Sterlet will build a nest out of plants and debris. The female will then lay her eggs in this nest.

After the eggs have been laid, the male will guard them until they hatch. This usually takes between 10 and 14 days. Once the fry have hatched, they will need to be fed small live foods such as brine shrimp or bloodworms. They can also be fed crushed flake food.

As the fry grow, they will need to be moved to larger tanks. Once they reach adulthood, they can be moved back to the main tank.


The Sterlet is a beautiful fish that is perfect for the beginner aquarist. They are easy to care for and are very peaceful, making them a great addition to any community tank.

While they are a bit more sensitive to water quality than some other fish, as long as you are diligent about cleaning your tank and doing regular water changes, they will do just fine.

Overall, we think the Sterlet is a great choice for anyone looking for a low-maintenance fish that is still stunning to look at.