Latin name

Catostomus commersoni

Other names

Black sucker, black mullet, brook sucker, carp, common sucker, common white sucker, eastern sucker, mud sucker, fine scaled sucker, grey sucker, mullet; French: meunier noir, cyprin-sucet.


White suckers have inconspicuous coloration, usually sparse shades of white, yellow, and pink. Adults have almost no dark pigmentation, juveniles have three lateral black spots midway down the body: one between the dorsal fin and operculum, one under the dorsal fin, and one on the caudal fin. The body is elongated and almost circular in cross section. White suckers have rather small scales that become larger towards the back of the body.


The white sucker is one of the most widespread species in North America. It is common from Canada south to the southern Appalachian Mountains and west to Utah and Idaho. Its range has expanded as a result of the transfer of bait buckets when anglers release unused fish.


The white sucker is a universal habitat and lives in all types of freshwater environments. It is found in lakes, rivers, ponds, reservoirs, and even some small streams. It can exist in quite degraded systems, tolerating some turbidity, pollution, siltation and eutrophication. In rivers, adults often live in deep pools, while juveniles live along the edges of streams and in backwaters.


The white sucker is a medium-sized fish that reaches 18 inches or more in length and up to 8 pounds in weight. The largest specimens can reach 17 years of age, but the normal life span is 12 to 15 years. Both sexes reach sexual maturity at about the same time. The first spawn occurs between 3 and 5 years of age, depending on the region.

Life history and Behavior

White suckers make long upstream spawning migrations in early spring. The spawning season can last from late March to early July in some areas. Upstream migration may be triggered by rising water temperatures or stream flows that occur during this time of year. Prior to spawning, suckers migrate to deep pools where they congregate. They then congregate and spawn in areas with clean gravel substrate. Males and females line up next to each other at the bottom of a stream, then shake vigorously, releasing eggs and sperm by burying them in the substrate. In lakes, they spend this activity on shallow shoals or may move upstream into rivers. During spawning, the white suckers turn dark. The male becomes olive on the upper body and may have a pinkish lateral stripe.

Food and feeding habits

Like most suckers, this species feeds on a variety of benthic organisms and organic nutrients. The main food items are insect larvae, which are sucked up and sifted through the gill rays. Gnat larvae, small crustaceans, algae and detritus are the most common foods.


No information

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Cypriniformes
Family Catostomidae
Genus Catostomus
Species C. commersonii
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Bottom
Life span, years 17
Maximum body weight, kg 2.72
Maximum length, cm 51
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Bentophage

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Sucker, White

Tags: Sucker, White