The sucker fish family of the Cypriniformes order, also known as Catostomidae, is a family of freshwater fish with 80 species, native to North America, eastern Siberia and east central China, particularly in rivers but also in any other freshwater environment. Catostomidae is abundant in northern Minnesota, where they are harvested and smoked.
Suckers feed on insects, dwelling organisms such as worms and crustaceans and worms, as well as small fish for the larger suckers. All species are characterized by their mouth, located on the underside of the head, having thick, fleshy lips that give them their name because it enables the fish to attach to rocks in the quicker flowing waters.
Sucker species include the Genus Carpiodes, with the River carpsucker (Carpiodes carpio), Quillback (Carpiodes cyprinus), Carpiodes dialuzona, and Highfin carpsucker (Carpiodes velifer). The Genus Catostomus include Utah sucker (Catostomus Ardens), Yaqui sucker (Catostomus bernardini), Cahita sucker (Catostomus cahita), Sacramento sucker (Catostomus occidentalis), Mountain sucker (Catostomus platyrhynchus), and Rio Grande sucker (Catostomus plebeius) among others.
Suckers of the Genus Chasmistes species include Shortnose sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris) and June sucker (Chasmistes liorus). Genus Cycleptus with Blue sucker (Cycleptus elongatus) as the most representative, Genus Deltistes with the Creek chubsucker (Erimyzon oblongus) and the Lake hubsucker (Erimyzon sucetta).
There are many other species such as the Genus Hypentelium, Genus Ictiobus, Genus Minytrema, Genus Moxostoma, Genus Myxocyprinus, Chinese sucker, Genus Thoburnia, and Genus Xyrauchen. All of them less than 2 feet (60 cm) in length, with the largest species reaching nearly 40 inches (1 m) in size.
Sucker is not fished for recreationally in North America and not highly prized for their flesh; however, there are some of them appreciated by fisherman and anglers, including the Quillback, Highfin Carpsucker, Lake Chubsucker, Sharpfin Chubsucker, Spotted Sucker, River Redhorse, Blacktail Redhorse, and Grayfin Redhorse.
Quillbacks live in large streams and creeks if permanent pools are present, although in Florida they are restricted to the larger rivers avoiding entering into the smaller tributary streams. Quillbacks can be caught at the Escambia, Choctawhatchee and Apalachicola rivers with no danger of population decline.
Carpsuckers are basically commercial fish in some areas of the central United States, because they are good to eat, although basically bony. Small species are important food items for game fishes. Large variety of suckers can be found in north Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin, northward from Louisiana to the Texas-Oklahoma border and particularly along the Gulf Coast, from Louisiana eastward to the Choctawhatchee River of Florida.
There is a website that has great information on most species of freshwater fish. It has details that pertain to each species of fish such as habitat, spawning, eating habits, the best lures and baits and more, the website is called: Fishing Stringer, and can be found at this url:
By Robert W. Benjamin
Copyright © 2007
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Robert W. Benjamin has been in the software business on the internet for over 5 years, and has been producing low-cost software for the past 25+ years. He first released products on the AMIGA and C64 computer systems in the late 1970's-80's.
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