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longnose sucker

longnose sucker (Catostomus catostomus) [state threatened]
Photo © U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Features and Behaviors

The longnose sucker has a cylindrical body, a horizontal mouth and thick lips covered with papillae (bumps). The long snout is also distinctive. The body is green or gray above and may have dark-gray, irregular blotches. The belly is white or cream. The breeding male is black with a red stripe along the side and develops tubercles (bumps) on the head, anal fin and bottom half of the tail fin. This fish may grow to 18 inches in length and two pounds in weight in Lake Michigan. Its average life span is eight to 11 years.

The longnose sucker is typically found in shallow water but may move to the deep water of Lake Michigan. This species breeds in spring. The female deposits an average of 26,000 eggs on a rock or gravel substrate. The eggs sink to the bottom. Depending on the water temperature, the eggs hatch in about one to two weeks. This fish is a bot-tom feeder, taking in aquatic insects, algae and small aquatic plants.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Catostomidae

Illinois Status: state threatened, native

Poor water quality and ecological imbalances due to the introduction of exotic species into Lake Michigan have led to the decline of this species.