What do You Mean by Sucker Fish?

Sucker (family Catostomidae), any of the freshwater fishes that make up the Catostomidae family, which are related to and similar to carp and minnows (Cyprinidae).

Suckers come in 80 to 100 different species. Except for a few Asian species, all are native to North America. Although many suckers are nearly indistinguishable from minnows, catostomidae are easily identified by their sucking, generally ventral mouth with projecting lips. Suckers feed by sucking invertebrates and plants from the bottoms of lakes and slow streams.

They are usually slow-moving fish. The size of the species varies greatly. The lake chubsucker (Erimyzon Sucetta) is a little species that grows to be 25 cm (10 inches) long, whereas the bigmouth buffalo fish (Ictiobus Cyprinellus) is a giant sucker that grows to be 90 cm long and weighs up to 33 kg (73 pounds). Suckers are bony, although they are caught commercially and for sport to some extent. Hog sucker (Hypentelium), buffalo fish (Ictiobus), carpsucker (Carpiodes), and redhorse (Jumprock) are some of the common names for the various genera (Moxostoma).


Sucker Fish

Sucker fish are members of the Catostomidae family and may be found in freshwater habitats all over the world. Sucker fish are thought to have emerged some 50 million years ago, and there are currently over 79 species. Sucker fish, although being bony, have traditionally been an important food source and may be found in streams and rivers across the United States as well as other nations such as China. Sucker fish's real name is the "suckermouth catfish."

The fish is commonly used in aquariums and is known as the "janitor fish" because it cleans out algae.

Remoras are a fish family known as "sucker fish" because of their sucker-like system that allows them to attach to huge marine predators such as sharks.

Suckers resemble large minnows in looks, but they belong to a different fish family. Suckers are an important food source for large predatory fish, but some grow large enough to provide angling fun in and of itself, especially during their spring spawning migrations. There are 18 species of sucker in Pennsylvania. However, because six of the species have not been observed in a long time, researchers are suspicious that they still exist. In Pennsylvania, one species, the Longnose Sucker, which is endemic to both North America and Siberia, is endangered. Suckers are a big family, with 68 species found in North America's fresh waters north of Mexico. The term "Catostomidae" means "inferior mouth," referring to the fish's mouth's central position on the head.


General Identification

Suckers are robust, medium-sized fish having smooth-edged (cycloid) scales.

The Sucker's body has smooth-feeling scales, but its head lacks them. The scales of many Suckers are large and reflective, giving them a silvery or gold shine. The Sucker's fins do not have any sharp spines. The soft-rayed dorsal fin is the only one on the fish. On the Sucker's belly, the anal fin is positioned farther back than on the Minnow's belly. Suckers have no teeth in their mouth. They have a single row of more than 16 pharyngeal teeth, which are tooth-like structures that help in digesting and are positioned in the throat. Suckers feed in this manner, hence the fleshy-lipped mouth is small, low, and directed downward.

The majority of the people receive food by “sucking” or “vacuuming” it into their mouths.


Life History

The bulk of Suckers live in streams and rivers, but some, such as the White Sucker and Creekchub Sucker, also reside in lakes.

Suckers lay their eggs from early spring until early summer. Some species migrate in large numbers up tributary streams or to river riffles. Scientists have also seen homing behaviour in spawning Suckers, in which they return to previously used spawning areas. The bulk of Suckers spread their eggs at random. River Redhorse males, on the other hand, dig nest-like depressions in the gravel, whereas Chubsucker males defend a territory. Sucker fish food is zooplankton and algae while they are young.

Larger game fish use them as a source of food. Aquatic invertebrates, insects, and molluscs are eaten by adults. They eat some aquatic plant matter as well.


Distribution and Habitat

The native distribution of this species is tropical northern South America; it may be found in northeastern Brazil, the Guianas, and Trinidad and Tobago. In both popular and scientific literature, the term Hypostomus Plecostomus (or Plecostomus Plecostomus) has been used incorrectly for numerous more-or-less similar loricariid catfishes. It has been suggested that it can be found in southern Central America, however, this is a completely different species, Hemiancistrus Aspidolepis (also known under another synonym, Hypostomus Panamensis).

H. Plecostomus is a Loricariidae species that has been widely introduced to several nations throughout the world.

It is erroneous, as the species in question belong to the Pterygoplichthys genus (either P. Pardalis, P. disjunctive, P. Anisitsi or P. Multiradiatus). A Pterygoplichthys species has been introduced to several southern parts of the United States, most likely by aquarists into local waters. They can be found, for example, in a lake near Hammock Trace Preserve in Melbourne, Florida.

Reproduction populations may be found in the San Antonio River (Bexar County), Comal Springs (Comal County), San Marcos River (Hays County), and San Felipe Creek (Val Verde County) spring-influenced environments, as well as drainage canals in the Rio Grande Valley and Houston.


Sucker Fish Food

They are omnivores and bottom feeders who like clean water at the bottom of lakes, rivers, and streams.

When suckers feed, they travel slowly through a sand or gravel substrate. Insect larvae, crustaceans, molluscs, protozoa, and diverse aquatic plants, such as algae and leaves, are all sucker fish food.


Types of Sucker Fish 

1. White Sucker

The white sucker (Catostomus Commersonii) is a freshwater cypriniform fish native to North America's upper Midwest and Northeast, as far as Georgia and New Mexico in the south and west.

Because of its fleshy, papillose lips, which suck up organic waste and aufwuchs from the bottom of rivers and streams, the fish is sometimes referred to as a "sucker." The white sucker is also known as bay fish, brook sucker, common sucker, and mullet. Because they seem so similar, the white sucker is sometimes mistaken with the longnose sucker (C. Catostomus).

It may grow to be between 12 and 20 inches long and weigh 2 to 6 pounds when fully grown.

The fish's suckermouth, with its fleshy lips, is at the bottom of its head, in the inferior position, as the fish feeds on bottom surfaces. These fish are sometimes confused with other varieties of suckers and redhorses, but the entire lateral line system with 55-85 tiny scales differentiates them.

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2. River Redhorse

The river redhorse (Moxostoma Carinatum) is a freshwater fish that is only found in the eastern United States and southeastern Canada.

Their weight varies between 2 and 10 pounds. It's most common in clean, big streams and rivers, although it may also be found in lakes. Crayfish or worms are sometimes used as bait in spearing or hook and line fishing. It feeds on mussels, snails, crustaceans, and young aquatic insects as a bottom-feeder. Big-sawed sucker, river mullet, larger redhorse, redfin redhorse, and redhorse sucker are some of its common names.

The river redhorse may be found throughout the Mississippi River System's middle and eastern reaches, as well as the Gulf Slope from Florida to Louisiana. Its range in Canada is marked by disjunct populations in southern Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta. In the last 200 years, the population of this species has collapsed over much of its range.

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3. Blue Suckers

The blue sucker (Cycleptus Elongatus) is a long-lived freshwater fish species in the sucker family that is threatened with extinction. The typical weight of the species is 2-3 kilos, with a length of 76 cm. Individuals have been documented that are over 40 years old and have a record length of 102 cm. In the spring, the colour ranges from pale steel-grey to almost black. The fish has a streamlined appearance, with a small/slender head that tapers to a fleshy snout and an inferior mouth. The fish can eat from the bottom of its environment because of its mouth position. This fish has an elongated and somewhat compressed body. It has a long falcate dorsal fin with 24-35 rays that are high anteriorly. It has a forked caudal fin and a lengthy caudal peduncle. On average, the anal fin has 7-8 rays. The scales are big, with 55-58 scales extending along the lateral line.

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4. Quillback

The quillback (Carpiodes Cyprinus), often known as the quillback carpsucker, is a sucker-like freshwater fish that may be found throughout North America.

It has a carp-like look because of its deeper body than other suckers. The lack of barbels surrounding the mouth separates it from carp. The quillback has been known to live for more than 50 years.

The quillback is a large, ectothermic fish with a deep body that may be found throughout North America. It has a tiny head, a humped back, and a caudal fin that is highly forked. When seen from the side, the quillback's compressed body looks flattened. The quillback has a subterminal mouth with no barbels and a bottom lip with no nipple-like protrusions. The quillback's unique silver hue is due to its huge, shiny silver cycloid scales. Its bottom fins are yellow or orange, and they have a white belly. The dorsal fin and tail are normally grey or silver. The long quill created by the first several fin rays of the dorsal fin gives the quillback its name.

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5. Northern Hogsucker

The northern hogsucker (Hypentelium nigricans) is a ray-finned freshwater fish that belongs to the suckers' Catostomidae family. It is found in streams and rivers across the United States and Canada. It favours clean, fast-moving water in which it may hunt on crustaceans, molluscs, aquatic insects, algae, and debris on the riverbank. Other fish species occasionally station themselves downstream from its activity to acquire disrupted food pieces, and it flips over small stones and scrapes materials off rocks and sucks up the particles. In late spring, sucker fish breeding takes place on gravel bottoms in shallow riffles.

Southern Canada and parts of the eastern and southern United States are home to the northern hogsucker.

It lives in the Mississippi River Basin's rivers, with a range that stretches from Oklahoma and Alabama to Minnesota. It may be found throughout the mid-Atlantic region's Great Lakes and rivers. Except in western parts, where it has been extirpated, its present range is comparable to its historical distribution. Agricultural activities in places like South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma have caused habitat disturbance, which has contributed to extirpation events.

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6. Hypostomus Plecostomus

The sucker catfish, commonly known as the common pleco, is a tropical fish that belongs to the armoured catfish family (Loricariidae). It gets its name from the armour-like longitudinal rows of scutes that cover the top regions of the head and body (the lower surface of the head and abdomen is naked).

Although the name Hypostomus Plecostomus is frequently used to describe common Plecostomus sold in aquarium stores, the majority of them belong to a different genus. Sucker catfish has little or no value as a food fish, however, they are eaten on occasion in their natural habitat.

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Conclusion

Sucker fish are thought to have emerged some 50 million years ago, and there are currently over 79 species. Sucker fish, although being bony, have traditionally been an important food source. Suckers are a big family, with 68 species found in North America's fresh waters north of Mexico. There are 18 species of sucker in Pennsylvania, but six of the species have not been observed in a long time, making researchers suspicious they still exist. Sucking fish are not to be confused with Hypostomus Plecostomus, sometimes known as the "suckermouth catfish" Suckers live in streams and rivers, but some, such as the White Sucker and Creekchub Sucker, also reside in lakes. Some species migrate in large numbers up tributary streams or to river riffles. Scientists have also seen homing behaviour in spawning Suckers, in which they return to previously used spawning areas. Larger game fish use them as a source of food. The bulk of Suckerers spread their eggs at random. River Redhorse males, on the other hand, dig nest-like depressions in the gravel, whereas Chubsucker males defend a territory.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q.1) What Do Sucker Fish Eat in the Wild?

Answer: Suckers consume zooplankton and algae while they are young.

Larger game fish use them as a source of food. Aquatic invertebrates, insects, and molluscs are eaten by adults. They eat some aquatic plant matter as well.

Q.2) Are Sucker Fish Herbivores, Carnivores, or Omnivores?

Answer: Sucker fish are omnivores, which means they consume both plants and animals.

Q.3) What Kingdom do Sucker Fish Belong to?

Answer: Sucker Fish are members of the Animalia kingdom.

Q.4) What is the Biggest Threat to the Sucker Fish?

Answer: Pollution and dams are the two major dangers to sucker fish.