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Fish at The Robins Nature Center

The following fish species are on rotation in exhibits at The Robins Nature Center.

Blue Catfish, Ictalurus furcatus
Striped Bass, Morone saxatilis
Longnose Gar, Lepisosteus osseus
Bowfin, Amia calva
Largemouth Bass, Micropterus salmoides
Atlantic Sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrhynchus oxyrhynchus
Striped Burrfish, Chylomycterus schoepfi
Blue Gill, Lepomis macrochirus
Brown Bullhead, Ameiurus nebulosus

Channel Catfish, Ictalurus punctatus
Common Carp, Cyprinus carpio
Green Sunfish, Lepomis cyanellus
Mosquito Fish, Gambusia affinis
Redbreast Sunfish, Lepomis auritus
Redear Sunfish, Lepomis microlophus
Silver Shiner, Notropis photogenis
Yellow Perch, Perca flavescens

Natural History

The Robins Nature Center is home to a variety of fish that live in the James River and the Chesapeake Bay. A comprehensive list of fish located at The Robins Nature Center can be found above. One of our most notable fish is the Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus), which is considered threatened, endangered, and even extinct in much of its original habitats.

The Atlantic sturgeon was a primary source of protein in Colonial times, and is often referred to as “the fish that saved Jamestown." This species of fish is known for its occasional "leaping" behavior called breaching. The exact reason why sturgeon breach remains unknown, although it has been suggested that they may be attempting to rid themselves of parasites. Another unique characteristic of the Atlantic sturgeon is their scales. Rather than having true scales like other fish, they have five rows of bony plates known as scutes.

Atlantic sturgeon under six years of age stay in the brackish water where they were born before moving into the ocean. They may be 3 to 5 feet long at this stage. Atlantic sturgeon may take anywhere from seven to twenty-three years to become sexually mature, depending on the sex and temperature of the water. When mature, they travel upstream to spawn. The females may lay 800,000 to 3.75 million eggs in a single year, doing so every 2 to 6 years. After laying their eggs females will travel back downstream, but males may remain upstream after spawning until forced to return downstream by the increasingly cold water. They may even return to the ocean, where they stay near the coastline. Sturgeon can often live to the age of sixty years old. Accounts of sturgeon over the age of one hundred were not uncommon in colonial times.

Populations of Atlantic sturgeon have declined due to overfishing, loss of habitat, limited access to spawning areas and water pollution. In the Chesapeake watershed, the James River in Virginia is one of the last confirmed holdouts for that region’s nearly extirpated population. In May 2007, a survey identified 175 sturgeon remaining in the entire river, with 15 specimens exceeding five feet.


James River Watershed and Chesapeake Bay

Fun Facts

  • Some of the most notable fish found at the Robins Nature Center are the Atlantic sturgeon, striped burrfish, and longnose gar.
  • There are over 30,000 species of fish in the world.
  • There are four main types of scales fish can have: placoid, ganoid, cycloid, and ctenoid. Uniquely, Atlantic sturgeon have bony scutes, which are modified ganoid scales, which protect the sturgeon like plates of armor.
  • The recreational and commercial fishing industries in the James River watershed and Chesapeake Bay contribute billions of dollars into Virginia and Maryland economies, making fish conservation highly important.
  • The United States Fish and Wildlife Service provided the Atlantic sturgeon we have on display to be used for education and outreach.

Adopt an Animal

Did you know it takes $500,000 each year to feed and care for the animals at Maymont? Your support of the Maymont Adopt an Animal Program helps provide food, care and enrichment to keep the rescued animals active, healthy and engaged.