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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

White Sucker: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

White sucker facts that will surprise you

It's so satisfying and cool to see fish swimming in open water, right! Here in this article, we shall be discussing one such cool fish species that have a wide distribution of habitat from the north-east and the west United States to Georgia and New Mexico.

The white sucker (Catostomus commersonii), also known as the Bay fish, Brook Sucker, or the Common Sucker, is a torpedo-shaped fish that grows to a maximum length of 12-20 in (30.5-50.8 cm) and can weigh up to 2.2-6.6 lbs (1-3 kg). The white sucker got its name because of its papillose lips (or, in easy words, big and thick lips), which seems to suck the food in. White suckers have a broad-round head with a downward-curved mouth. They have a total of six fins in their body with a strong caudal fin or tail. Their body color may vary a bit (the upper body is of dark color while the lower body is light-colored).

More in the article, we have in store some interesting and fun facts about this fish. So keep on reading!

And if you like reading fish facts, then do check our redbreast sunfish facts and Arctic char facts pages.

White Sucker Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a white sucker?

The white sucker is an aquatic animal (type of freshwater fish) found in the lakes, rivers, and streams in the western and north-eastern parts of the United States. They are called the white 'sucker' because of their papillose lips or mouth like the sucker fish.

What class of animal does a white sucker belong to?

Sucker white fishes belong to the class Actinopterygii, order Cypriniformes, family Catostomidae and genus name Catostomus. The white sucker scientific name is Catostomus commersonii.

How many white suckers are there in the world?

White suckers are the inhabitants of the lakes, rivers, and streams in the west and the north-east United States. Due to their distribution and wide spread population, there is no exact information about how many of this fish species inhibit the World.

Where does a white sucker live?

The white sucker is a freshwater fish and lives in the gravel bottom streams, rivers and lakes across northern and mid-west America. They can be found in the creeks or on the gravel areas in the flowing freshwater bodies.

What is a white sucker's habitat?

White suckers occupy a good range of habitats across the American rivers, streams, and lakes. Their species are located in the northeast and the west United States, which ranges towards the south. They can also be found in the far south in Georgia and in the south and west in New Mexico.

Who do white suckers live with?

Common white sucker fishes live in small schools. They stay more active during the dawn and dusk time (early in the morning and when the Sun sets). Adult white sucker schools can be easily spotted in shallow river or stream waters in the daytime. Different than the adults, the young fishes can be seen in mixed schools. They stay in similar-sized fish groups and happily roam around.

How long does a white sucker live?

The estimated life span of a white sucker fish is 10-12 years. White sucker's life depends on the availability of natural resources at the bottom of streams, river and lakes.

How do they reproduce?

The spawning or breeding season in white suckers starts in the spring from April and ends till early June. These fishes generally choose shallow waters (stream) as their spawning ground. One female white sucker can lay upto 10-20 thousand eggs. Once the stream-water temperature exceeds 10° C (50° F) in spring, these fishes start migrating and the process of breeding begins. Two or several males may surround a single female and stimulate her to release her eggs. Once the female releases all her eggs, males release their gamete and fertilize those eggs. The eggs take around 14-15 days to hatch and release the young white suckers.

What is their conservation status?

According to several censuses and IUCN Red List, the conservation status of these fishes is considered as Least Concern.

White Sucker Fun Facts

What do white suckers look like?

For the description, the white sucker has a torpedo-shaped body with thick fins. These fishes have a broad head with a  round base. White suckers have a long streamlined body which enables them to swim swiftly in water. They also have color patterns on their scales. The back (upper body) of these fish species can be of different colors such as dark green, grey, copper-brown, or black, while the underbody (near belly) is light-colored. The dorsal fin and the ventral fins are broad and have thick rays in them. The caudal fin (tail) is strong, and a bit forked.

White suckers have huge lips also known as papillose lips, which defines their identity.

How cute are they?

White suckers have a  papillose mouth which seems funny to a lot of people. They are moderate-looking fish species and are not so-called 'cute.'

How do they communicate?

Fishes can't make sound but can read  minute vibration in water. With the help of their lateral line segment organ they get the notification of any approaching danger. Every fish has a lateral line segment organ.

How big is a white sucker?

White suckers are torpedo-shaped fish species that inhibit the lake and river bodies and slow-moving water bodies like streams. They grow to an average length range of 12-20 in (30.5-50.8 cm) with a weight range of 2.2-6.6 lbs (1-3 kg) which is similar to a drum fish or a longhorn cowfish.

How fast can a white sucker swim?

There is no proper answer to this question as the swimming speed of a white sucker has never been measured. But a vague idea can be conceived that they have an adequate speed in water because of their body shape and strong fins.

White suckers inhabit the freshwater bodies in North America. Their population is wide spread, and that's why fishing on them causes no exploitation. People love catching them for their quality weight and tasty meat. These fishes are one of the prime food sources for people living there. Suckers can be found in shallow lake or pond waters, but they are mainly found in the flowing waters of a river or stream. For fishing, people use worms as bait. Any worm can be used as the bait, but nightcrawlers are recognized as the prime bait when it comes to sucker fishing. Suckers can be caught at any time of the year, but spring is the best season for catching suckers. Spring is the season when they spawn. So naturally, they keep looking for food, and that's how attracting them towards the bait becomes naturally easier.

How much does a white sucker weigh?

A white sucker size can be as long as 12-20 in (30.5-50.8 cm) and can weigh up to 2.2-6.6 lb (1-3 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name given to males and females as there are no such characteristic differences between males and females.

What would you call a baby white sucker?

Like other baby fish, a baby white sucker is also called a fry.

What do they eat?

White suckers are bottom-feeding aquatic animals that feed on or, may I say, suck in all their food (organic matters) present at the bottom of their habitats. They feed on different organic matters. They love consuming food such as insects, larvae, planktons, algae, and other plant materials. There are predators like the Northern pike, catfish, muskellunge and the sauger who eat the white sucker.

Are they dangerous?

Not at all. White suckers are timid fish species that inhibit the freshwater bodies. Humans also consume them as their food.

Would they make a good pet?

Adult white suckers grow to a length of 12-20 in (30.5-50.8 cm) and can weigh up to 2.2-6.6 lbs (1-3 kg). So it is not appropriate to keep them in a limited area in the aquarium. These fish species live in running water bodies (rivers, streams), and keeping such a big fish in a confined habitat may cause adverse effects on it.

Did you know...

The people living in the US often indulge in white sucker fishing and is greatly used for feeding purposes. They love to eat this common fish. Young sucker fishes are used as bait to other fishes and are hugely sold as sucker minnows.

What adaptations do white suckers have?

White suckers are generally those fish species which inhibit the cool water bodies rather than the cold water bodies. White suckers are found in rivers and streams with water temperatures ranging between 15 to 25 °C (59 to 77 °F). They can withstand in this temperature range but can't live in the water where the temperature exceeds 27° C (80.6 °F).

Is the white sucker endangered?

No, rather, white suckers are one of the most common fish species that one can spot in the shallow water of rivers and streams in the western and north-eastern part of the United States. With a good range of distribution, their population is doing well in nature.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these blobfish facts and swai fish facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable White sucker fish coloring pages.

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