Spotted Sucker
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • Close-up doral fin: There are 11-12 dorsal rays with a falcate or straight margin.
  • Notice the spots at the base of scales, there are 42-46 lateral line scales.
  • Close-up mouth/snout: The relatively thin, fleshy, and plicate lower lips form an obtuse angle.
  • Close-up flank: Notice the spots at the base of scales; the lateral line scales are not pored.
  • Top view: Notice that the spots are lined up in horizontal rows.
  • Side view of a breeder: Breeders develop tubercles on their heads and anal fin rays.
  • Close-up head: Breeders develop tubercles on their heads.
  • Close-up anal fin: Breeders develop tubercles on their anal fins.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: YOY are similar to adults, but the spots on the side are more faint.
  • Alternative side view of an adult.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Suckers (Catostomidae)
Body
Mouth and snout: Inferior, no teeth on jaws. No barbels. Body patterning, color, and scales: Spotted (but see breeding adults). Body usually light olive or tan with a dark squarish spot at the anterior or each scale on the flank. Spots arranged in horizontal rows. Spots fade away on whitish belly. Fins dusky, especially on outer edge of dorsal fin, or white (especially paired fins). 42-46 (usually 47-51) cycloid lateral line scales; 0-38 of these pored. Body shape and size: Body fusiform and elongate; round in cross section. Typically 300-450 mm (12-18 in) TL; maximum about 500 mm (20 in).
Fins
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Forked tail. Single dorsal with no spines and 11-12 rays. Pelvic fins abdominal. Adipose fin absent. Anal fin with 7 rays.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The spotted sucker is unique in having an absent or incomplete lateral line and a relatively thin lower lip. It can also be distinguished by its number of dorsal rays (11-12). See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Males with tubercles on snout, head, and anal fin (photos). Some males reported to have two black lateral stripes separate by a pinkish stripe.
Juveniles
Similar to adults, but spots may be less distinct (photo).
Hybrids
None
Compare Similar Species
Dorsal Fin
Redhorse, Black12-14 rays, margin concave or falcate, rarely straight
Redhorse, Golden10-15 rays, usually 13, margin concave or falcate, rarely straight
Redhorse, Greater11-15 rays, usually 13-14, margin slightly concave to slightly convex
Redhorse, River13-15 rays, margin straight or slightly concave
Redhorse, Shorthead11-15 rays, usually 12-14, margin falcate
Redhorse, Silver14-17 rays, usually 15, margin usually straight or slightly convex
Sucker, Blue28-33 rays, anterior rays elongated
Sucker, Longnose9-11 rays, marging straight to slightly concave
Sucker, Northern Hog9-12 rays, usually 11-12, margin falcate
Sucker, Spotted11-12 rays, margin straight to falcate
Sucker, White10-13 rays, margin slightly concave to slightly convex
Lower Lip
Redhorse, BlackObtuse angle or straight margin, plicate
Redhorse, GoldenObtuse angle, plicate
Redhorse, GreaterObtuse angle, plicate
Redhorse, RiverObtuse angle or straight margin, plicate
Redhorse, ShortheadStraight margin, plicate with a few papillae
Redhorse, SilverAcute or right angle, papillose
Sucker, BlueAcute angle, papillose
Sucker, LongnoseAcute angle, papillose
Sucker, Northern HogAcute angle, papillose
Sucker, SpottedObtuse angle, relatively thin, plicate
Sucker, WhiteAcute angle, papillose
Body Pattern
Redhorse, BlackSolid color
Redhorse, GoldenSolid color
Redhorse, GreaterSolid color or with faint spots at anterior base scales in some fish
Redhorse, RiverSolid color or with faint spots at anterior base scales in some fish
Redhorse, ShortheadSolid color or with faint spots at anterior base scales in some fish
Redhorse, SilverSolid color
Sucker, BlueSolid color, darkly pigmented
Sucker, LongnoseSolid color or faint blotches, breeders with lateral stripe
Sucker, Northern HogDark mottling and large dark irregular blotches
Sucker, SpottedDark spots at anterior base of scales; lateral stripes in some breeders
Sucker, WhiteSolid color or faint blotches, breeders with lateral stripe
Lateral Line Scales
Redhorse, Black43-51, usually 44-47, all pored
Redhorse, Golden37-45, usually 40-42, all pored
Redhorse, Greater41-45, usually 42-44, all pored
Redhorse, River41-46, usually 42-44, all pored
Redhorse, Shorthead39-46, usually 42-44, all pored
Redhorse, Silver38-46, usually 41-42, all pored
Sucker, Blue53-58, all pored
Sucker, Longnose91-115, usually >95, all pored
Sucker, Northern Hog46-54, usually 47-51, all pored
Sucker, Spotted42-46, 0-38 pored
Sucker, White55-85, usually 60-70, all pored
Other Characteristics
Redhorse, BlackPelvic rays 8-11 but almost always one or both with 10; caudal peduncle depth >59% of caudal peduncle length; tail slate-colored in life
Redhorse, GoldenPelvic rays 9; caudal peduncle depth usually >63% of caudal peduncle length; tail slate-colored in life
Redhorse, GreaterHead rounded with a rounded snout, not overhanging lips ventrally; tail orange or red in life; scales around caudal peduncle 15-16
Redhorse, RiverHead rounded and bulky with a blunt or slightly rounded snout, overhanging lips ventrally in adults; tail orange or red in life; scales around caudal peduncle 12-13
Redhorse, ShortheadHead tapered to a pointed or slightly blunt snout, not overhanging lips ventrally; tail orange or red in life; scales around caudal peduncle 12-13
Redhorse, SilverTail slate-colored in life
Sucker, BlueDarkly pigmented fins
Sucker, LongnoseSnout distinctly extends past upper lip
Sucker, Northern HogTop of head with concavity between eyes; other species have this area flat or convex
Sucker, SpottedSpotes lined up in horizontal rows; limited to area above anal fin in small juveniles
Sucker, WhiteSnout barely extends past upper lip
Similarity Index
Redhorse, BlackModerately similar
Redhorse, GoldenModerately similar
Redhorse, GreaterModerately similar
Redhorse, RiverModerately similar
Redhorse, ShortheadModerately similar
Redhorse, SilverModerately similar
Sucker, BlueModerately similar
Sucker, LongnoseModerately similar
Sucker, Northern HogModerately similar
Sucker, SpottedN/A
Sucker, WhiteModerately similar
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