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What is a Longnose Sucker?

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  • Written By: S. Ashraf
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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The longnose sucker, scientifically named Catostomus catostomus, is one of 80 species that belong to the sucker family of freshwater fish. An adult longnose sucker is about 12-18 inches (30-46 cm) in length and typically weighs 12-32 ounces (340-907 g). In color, the longnose sucker ranges from slate gray and dark olive to almost black on its back and upper sides while having a yellowish-orange mouth and chin. The body of this species of sucker is torpedo-shaped, and it has a distinctive long, rounded snout with a mouth that resembles a suction cup.

Geographically, the longnose sucker is found mainly in North America, where it is the most widely dispersed species of sucker on the continent. The longnose sucker is distributed from coast to coast in the northern areas of the United States, and its range extends northward through Alaska to the northernmost parts of Canada. Pennsylvania is the southern boundary of its range in North America. The longnose is the only species of sucker that inhabits Asia, where it is often found in the streams and rivers of eastern Siberia.

For habitat, the longnose sucker prefers rivers, streams and lakes that are cold and clear. Occasionally, though, this fish will be found in somewhat warm and muddy waters in bays and estuaries. Longnose suckers are bottom dwellers and can be found to depths of about 600 feet (182 m). They tend to make their homes in holes or areas where there is some kind of underwater obstruction.

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In addition to living on the bottom, the longnose sucker is a bottom feeder with a mouth perfectly suited for it. The mouth of this species of sucker is puckered and looks something like a suction cup. It is located on the abdominal side of the fish so that it is naturally pointed toward where the food is. As a diet, adult longnose suckers feed mainly on an assortment of insect larvae from midges and mayflies. These fish also eat algae and bottom-dwelling aquatic invertebrates such as worms, snails and small crustaceans.

Breeding season is from about the middle of April through July. Longnose suckers migrate upstream to spawn in areas where waters flow at a moderate to fast rate over layers of gravel. Males wait for females over these gravelly areas. No nests are built, but the female releases eggs that sink to the bottom and are then fertilized by the male. The eggs attach themselves to the gravel or other bottom material and will hatch within a few weeks.

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