• Family: Catostomidae (Suckers)
• Other Names: None
• Ohio Status: No special status
• Adult Size: Typically 10-20 inches long, can reach 25 inches. Usually weighs less than 1 pound, can reach 5 pounds.
• Typical Foods: Consumes a wide variety of items including but not limited to; mollusks, insects, diatoms, crustaceans, protozoa, and some plant material.
White suckers have a long slender body with light brown colored sides and a white belly. They have a small sub-terminal (ending below tip of snout) mouth and smaller scales (55-85 along lateral line) than all other Ohio sucker species, except the longnose sucker. The dorsal fin and tail fin are a slate gray color. All other fins are white, yellow, or a light brown. Breeding males have a rosy or pinkish stripe along their upper sides and a dark colored back. Young white suckers have dark blotches over their back and sides. White suckers differ from the closely related longnose sucker by having a shorter snout, fewer later line scales, and by being much more common and widely distributed in Ohio.
Habitat and Habits
White suckers show little preference for a particular habitat and can be found in nearly every lake, reservoir, river and stream in Ohio. The largest Ohio population is found in Lake Erie and each year in early spring large numbers of white sucker migrate up tributary streams to spawn. White suckers also are very tolerant of pollution, turbidity (murky water), and low oxygen levels.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
White suckers spawn from April to early May when they run upstream, usually starting at night. They seek areas with swift water and a gravel substrate to randomly spread their eggs. Females can lay between 20,000 to 50,000 eggs. The young hatch and remain in the gravel for one to two weeks before migrating downstream at night. Larval white suckers feed on protozoa, diatoms, and small crustaceans. As the young grow, the mouth moves to the underside of the fish and allows the fish to feed on the bottom.