Chubsucker


Chubsuckers are members of the sucker family, Catostomidae. They are divided into three separate species: the creek chubsucker (Erimyzon sucetta), the lake chubsucker (Erimyzon oblongus), and the sharpfin chubsucker (Erimyzon tenuis). All species are extremely similar and are interchangeably referred to as “suckers” or “mullet” in different locales.

Chubsuckers are of little importance commercially and are predominant ignored for sportfishing. When taken from cold water, however, chubsuckers have good-flavored, firm flesh. Because of their abundance and their large size, chubsuckers often account for the greatest biomass in streams and lakes, making them important forage for predator species.

Identification

Chubsuckers are characteristically defined by their small, protruding, suckerlike mouths and thick fleshy lips. Creek, lake, and sharpfin chubsuckers are similarly colored a greenish bronze, without a lateral line. There are usually 10 to 12 dorsal rays and 7 anal rays.

The scales are dark-edged and, on the creek chubsucker, accompanied by dark blotches. A young chubsucker has a concentrated black band from the tip of the snout to the tail, on top of which is a yellow band. A breeding male is dark with a pink-orange tint and several tubercles on each side of the snout. The creek chubsucker has a chubby body, whereas the lake and sharpfin chubsuckers are slightly more elongated.

All suckers excepting the chubsucker have a fully developed lateral line.

Size/Age

Chubsuckers can grow to 13 to 15 inches, but they rarely exceed 10 inches in length. The average age for a chubsucker is 5, although one can live up to 8 years. Life history/Behavior. Spawning occurs in the early spring in small tributary waters. Sometimes the male builds a nest, but the eggs are usually scattered randomly over sand, gravel, or vegetation bottoms and left to hatch unattended.

Food and feeding habits

Chubsuckers are bottom feeders, consuming insect larvae, aquatic plants, and small crustaceans.

Distribution

Creek chubsuckers inhabit waters from the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River drainages south to Georgia and Gulf slope waters. Lake and sharpfin chubsuckers inhabit waters similar to those favored by creek chubsuckers, including waters as far west as Oregon and as far south as Florida.

Habitat

Lukewarm, clear waters of creeks, small rivers, lakes, ponds, and swamps or other waters without turbidity are favored environments. Chubsuckers are seldom found in streams, favoring the depths of still, calm waters. As bottom dwellers, chubsuckers prefer sand, gravel, or silt bottoms with abundant vegetation.
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