Suckers (Catostomidae)

Sucker silhouette.

Suckers are closely related to minnows; however, their anal fin is situated much farther back relative to the dorsal fin. They have ventral (downturned) mouths with large protruding lips, an adaptation for bottom feeding. They also have a single dorsal fin with 10 or more rays. All fins are spineless; scales are absent from cheeks and opercles; the pelvic fins are abdominal; and the tail is forked.

Three species of suckers have been reported in Connecticut. Two are native, with the other uncertain in origin. Suckers typically migrate up streams in the early spring to spawn. During spawning, the males develop “nuptial tubercles” (raised, horny bumps) on their heads.

Click on the species' names below to learn more.

White Sucker (Catostomus commersonii) - Native

48 cm white sucker.


Longnose Sucker (Catostomus catostomus) - Native?

Adult longnose sucker.


Creek Chubsucker (Erimyzon oblongus) - Native

24 cm creek chubsucker in a tank.


Suckers can be kept in a home aquarium, but are not as tolerant of warmwater conditions or poor water quality as many of the typical pond species (such as sunfish and catfish). They may accept pellets or flake food, but require live or fresh food to thrive.


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.