Creek Chubsucker (Erimyzon oblongus) - Native

24 cm creek chubsucker in a tank.

A 9-inch adult creek chubsucker. Note tubercles (bumps) on face and anal fin that form on many suckers and minnows during spawning season.

Identification. Adults more stout-bodied than other suckers, which superficially makes them look like a carp. No conspicuous blotches or spots. Lips have parallel series of ridges. Dorsal rays 9-10. Lateral line absent. Large scales (fewer than 45 along midline of body). Typically dark brown on the back, fading to reddish-brown or bronze on the sides and cream color on the belly. Juveniles typically have a dark lateral band (may be faint) and occasionally blotches on the body. The lateral band also may show faintly on adults.

66 mm creek chubsucker in a tank.

Juvenile creek chubsuckers, such as this 3-inch specimen, have a dark lateral band.

Size. Commonly 8 to 14 inches. State survey max. size 16 inches. Max. reported size 18 inches.

Distribution. Throughout North America from the Mississippi eastward. In Connecticut, creek chubsuckers have a statewide, but patchy distribution where they range from uncommon to common in abundance. Similarly reported for Massachusetts, they may be in decline in Connecticut. Recent surveys (post-1988, indicated by open triangles on map) failed to find them in 45 percent of lakes where they had previously been sampled.

Creek chubsucker distribution map.

All maps created in 2009. See CT DEEP Fish Community Data for updated distributions.

Habits. Prefer slow-moving waters and pools of clearer streams, rivers and lakes, typically near vegetation. Stream populations make short spawning migrations in the spring to headwaters, whereas lake populations may run upstream or spawn in the mouths of tributaries.

Comments. Creek chubsucker populations have reportedly declined in streams that are subject to siltation. For this reason, they are considered an indicator species of good water quality. Most people are unaware of their existence because they are rarely caught by angling.

Close-up of creek chubsucker lips.

A parallel series of ridges on the lips is a key trait of a creek chubsucker. Note that the lower lip of this specimen is deformed (asymmetrical).


Text and images adapted from Jacobs, R. P., O'Donnell, E. B., and Connecticut DEEP. (2009). A Pictorial Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. Hartford, CT. Available for purchase at the DEEP Store.