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Fish at The Robins Nature Center

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

American eel, Anguilla rostrata
American shad, Alosa sapidissima
Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrhynchus
Black crappie, Pomoxis nigromaculatus
Blue catfish, Ictalurus furcatus
Blueback herring, Alosa aestivalis
Bluegill, Lepomis macrochirus
Bluespotted sunfish, Enneacanthus gloriosus
Bowfin, Amia calva
Brown bullhead, Ameiurus nebulosus
Bull chub, Nocomis raneyi
Channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus
Chain catshark, Scyliorhynus retifer
Common carp, Cyprinus carpio
Gizzard shad, Dorosoma cepedianum
Flathead catfish, Pylodictis olivaris
Largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides
Lined seahorse, Hippocampus erectus
Longnose gar, Lepisosteus osseus
Margined madtom, Noturus insignis
Northern hogsucker, Hypentelium nigricans

Oyster toadfish, Opsanus tau
Pumpkinseed, Lepomis gibbosus
Quillback, Carpiodes cyprinus
Redbreast sunfish, Lepomis auritus
Rock bass, Ambloplites rupestris
Sea lamprey, Petromyzan marinus
Shiner/Spottail, Notropis hudsonius
Shorthead redhorse, Moxostoma macrolepidotum
Smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieu
Striped bass, Morone saxatilis
Striped blennies, Chasmodes bosquianus
Striped burrfish, Chylomycterus schoepfi
Stripedback darter, Percina notogramma
Torrent sucker, Thoburnia rhothoeca
Walleye, Stizostedion vitreum
Warmouth, Lepomis gulosus
White catfish, Ameiurus catusCc
White crappie, Pomoxis annularis
White perch, Morone americana
Yellow bullhead, Ameiurus natalis
Yellow perch, Perca flavescens



James River Watershed and Chesapeake Bay

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.

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.