Fun Chinese Paddlefish Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Chinese paddlefish facts about the fish that is now extinct.

Are you interested in rare and unique species? Then you should go through this article about the Chinese Paddlefish, who are not related to sharks.

Chinese Paddlefish (Psephurus gladius), also named as Chinese swordfish, was a relative of American Paddlefish. These species were only found in China and were one of the largest freshwater fishes. The fish that was native to the Yangtze River and Yellow River basin was good at maintaining the ecological balance in the Yangtze River.

The once-endangered Yangtze fauna has now gone extinct. Due to overfishing and habitat loss, the unique species had to face extinction.

The now functionally extinct species was once of the main predators of the Yangtze River. The Chinese Paddlefish population had been protected by law since 1983. The large freshwater fish was easy to capture, and thus the once-endangered Yangtze ultimately faced extinction.

However, before extinction, the species showed great uniqueness and interesting characteristics. Keep reading to know more about Chinese Paddlefish.

If you like learning and reading about animals, then check out pumpkinseed sunfish and codfish facts for more relatable content.

Chinese Paddlefish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Chinese Paddlefish?

As the name suggests, Chinese Paddlefish was a type of fish native to the Yangtze River of China.

What class of animal does a Chinese Paddlefish belong to?

The Chinese relative of American Paddlefish used to belong to the class of Actinopterygii and the family of Polyodontidae.

How many Chinese Paddlefish are there in the world?

Currently, there are no Chinese Paddlefish left in this world as the species is considered to be extinct.

Where does a Chinese Paddlefish live?

The Chinese Paddlefish was native to the river basin of China and used to live in the Yangtze River and Yellow River in China.

What is a Chinese Paddlefish's habitat?

The Chinese Paddlefish was found exclusively in China. The natural habitat of the species was freshwater and estuaries.  

Who do Chinese Paddlefish live with?

These freshwater fishes were largely solitary species and were generally found to occupy the lower-mid layers of the water column of the Yangzte River.

How long does a Chinese Paddlefish live?

A paddlefish has an average life of 9-10.5 years.

How do they reproduce?

The mating process of Chinese Paddlefish was quite interesting. The spawning season of freshwater fish native to the Yangtze river used to begin in March and go on till April.

To reach its upriver spawning grounds, the fish used to migrate every year during the spawning season. The male and female of the species would release their sperm and eggs respectively into the water.

The sperm and the eggs were mixed and fertilized together. Small and almost undeveloped young fishes used to hatch after a few days. The young ones were left all alone to fend for themselves.

When the young fish grew up after a few days, it would move downriver to start its new life. A Chinese Paddlefish used to take about seven to eight years to fully reach maturity.

What is their conservation status?

The species were considered to be Endangered back in 1983 and were under first-level protection by the People's Republic of China ever since. Due to loss of habitat and overfishing, the world had to bid goodbye to this unique species native to the Yangtze River.

The endangered species was announced to be extinct in 2020. The IUCN or International Union for Conservation of Nature has not announced anything officially yet.

Chinese Paddlefish Fun Facts

What do Chinese Paddlefish look like?

The native Paddlefish of China used to have unique and prominent features. It had a white underbelly with a silver or gray back.

A large open mouth with a long paddle-shaped nose was one of its distinguished features. It used to have small and round eyes, and unlike their American relatives, they were noted to have small teeth and a protrusible jaw.

The tail fin of Chinese Paddlefish had a well-developed caudal lobe and was heterocercal. It was known for having smooth skin except for a few small scales on the fin.

Scientists consider the Chinese Paddlefish extinct now due to habitat loss and overfishing.

How cute are they?

Even though Chinese Paddlefish used to possess a great rarity to their looks, they cannot be considered cute. The huge body with small teeth and eyes used to make them look scarier rather than cute.

How do they communicate?

Like every other fish, Chinese Paddlefish communicate with each other through vibrations, sound, color, and smell. Using these methods, they alert others of potential danger, call for spawning, or navigate.

How big is a Chinese Paddlefish?

Chinese Paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) was indeed a gigantic species that used to dwell in the Yangtze.

At the age of seven or eight, Chinese Paddlefish used to have a body of about 6 ft 7 in or 2 m. However, a fully grown Chinese Paddlefish used to grow up to 23 ft or 7 m which is almost four times bigger than their American relative.

How fast can a Chinese Paddlefish swim?

Unlike American Paddlefish, this species is a strong swimmer as they were top predators. However, the exact speed is not known.

How much does a Chinese Paddlefish weigh?

An average fully grown Chinese Paddlefish used to weigh around 1,100 lb or 500 kg.

What are their male and female names of the species?

This species has no particular name for males and females. They are simply referred to as male paddlefish and female paddlefish.

What would you call a baby Chinese Paddlefish?

A baby Chinese Paddlefish is called fry like every other baby fish in the world.

What do they eat?

This Chinese swordfish, being the top predator of the river, survived by preying on small or medium size freshwater fishes, shrimps, and crabs.

Are they dangerous?

This extinct species of China was primarily a predator. It was known for preying on freshwater animals. However, they were never a threat to humans.

Would they make a good pet?

Being one of the largest freshwater fish, Chinese Paddlefish would require a huge pool or aquarium to stay in. It is nearly impossible to keep this giant Chinese Paddlefish at home.

Also, they would not be able to survive outside their natural habitat. So they would not make a suitable pet. However, people cannot pet a Chinese Paddlefish even if they have sufficient space because the species is now extinct.

Did you know...

Chinese Paddlefish were edible species. The meat of paddlefish was highly in demand. It was considered to be very healthy and tasted delicious.

Chinese Paddlefish were called 'primitive fish' as their morphological evolution is prominent from their fossils.

Chinese Paddlefish was a part of a 100 million years old ancient lineage of paddlefish. So, it can be said that paddlefishes have been around for a while now.

A fully grown adult Chinese Paddlefish was never threatened by any other species from its natural habitat. However, the young ones and the vulnerable eggs used to face attacks from various fishes.

Chinese Paddlefish extinction

One of the world's largest freshwater fish was considered endangered in 1983 but was officially declared extinct in 2020. The reason behind this extinction is mostly habitat loss and overfishing.

This species was an easy target of fishermen of Yangtze as it required no effort to catch them, and they were caught easily. The construction of the Gezhouba dam building is also a reason behind their extinction. Apart from that, their breeding was restricted; thus, the number of species gradually decreased.

Chinese Paddlefish in the food chain

The presence of species that are higher up in the trophic level is extremely important to keep the food chain going smoothly. When a top predator is lost, a cascading effect will be seen.

Chinese Paddlefish, being a top predator, used to keep the food chain run effectively. The loss of someone who eats higher up in the food chain will affect the total environment and challenge the river's ecosystem.

Some species of the Yangtze river will keep on expanding while others will keep on decreasing. So the functionally extinct status of Chinese Paddlefish has and will continue to have a serious effect on the ecosystem of the Yangtze River.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including skate fish, or fluke fish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our chinese paddlefish coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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