Catostomus catostomus
Longnose Sucker

Longnose Sucker

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The natural history of the northwoods



  • Catostomus, from the Greek, "subterminal mouth"
  • catostomus, from the Greek, "subterminal mouth"
  • Common name from its extended snout relative to similar species
  • Other common names include: Finescale Sucker, Mullet, Northern Sucker, Red Sucker, Sturgeon Sucker


  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Chordata, animals with a spinal chord
    • Subphylum Vertebrata, animals with a backbone
      • Superclass Osteichthyes, bony fishes
      • Class Actinopterygii, ray-finned and spiny rayed fishes
      • Subclass Neopterygii
      • Infraclass Teleostei
        • Superorder Ostariophysi
        • Order Cypriniformes, minnows and suckers
          • Family Catostomidae, suckers
            • Genus Catostomus, common suckers


  • A dark northern sucker
  • Length 12"-18"
  • Weight 12 oz to 2 lbs
  • Color
    • dark olive or grey to nearly black on back and upper sides,
    • cream to white on lower sides and ventral surface of head and body
    • chin and mouth often yellow to orange
    • reddish band along the middle of each side of the body of breeding females and, especially, males where it extends onto the snout.
  • Body
    • long and round
  • Head
    • ventral, sucker mouth
    • long pointed snout.


  • Distinguished from the closely related and more commonly encountered White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni) by:
    • generally darker coloration
    • smaller size (12"-14")
    • noticeably longer snout
    • lateral line of 90-117 scales; the White Sucker has less than 85.


  • The most widespread sucker species in North America, inhabiting clear, cold waters from the northern tier of the United States to the top of the continent.
  • The only species of sucker that also occurs in Asia, commonly found in rivers of eastern Siberia.


  • Cool, spring-fed creeks, lakes and their tributary streams over a wide northern North American and Northeast Asian range.
  • Common in both lakes and rivers with cold or warm water, often sharing habitat with the White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni).
  • Could be threatened by mining, logging, and other activities near streams that would adversely affect water quality and temperature.


  • Typically a bottom feeder, consuming algae, crustaceans, snails, and insect larvae (caddisflies, mayflies, midges).


  • Minnesota Record: 3lbs 2oz, from the Rainy River (Koochiching County) west of the BWCA.


  • Considered by many Lake Superior fishermen and fish processors as an abundant but underutilized species that could be better marketed. Frozen fillets of sucker are usually sold as "mullet."
  • Flavor considered superior to that of the White Sucker.


  • Spawns in early spring, in lakes or in shallow-flowing streams over gravel, over a 1-2 week period, during the early to mid-morning hours. Males wait over gravelly areas in mid-stream for individual females, which return to the sides of the stream following short, repeated spawning episodes. Small batches of eggs attach to bottom material and hatch within several weeks.
  • Fry remain within the gravel until 1-2 weeks old, then disperse.
  • Does not sexually mature until 4-9 years of age.
  • The Longnose Sucker spawns in the spring, several days before the White Sucker begins its spawning run up the same stream. Once in the shallows, both species are prey to raptors and mammals like osprey and bear.



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Last updated on 15 October 1999