Northern Hog Sucker
  • 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.
  • The dorsal fin has 9-12 rays with a falcate/concave margin.
  • The sides are mottled with blotches and have 47-51 lateral line scales.
  • Close-up underside of head: The lower lips form an acute angle and are thick, fleshy, and papillose.
  • Close-up flank: The sides are mottled with blotches and have 47-51 lateral line scales.
  • Close-up top of head: There is a distinct concavity between the eyes.
  • Close-up lower caudal lobe: Breeders develop minute tubercles on their fin rays.
  • Close-up anal fin: Breeders develop minute tubercles on their fin rays.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: Juveniles are similar to adults.
  • Alternative view of the anal fin.
  • Alternative view of the tail region.
  • Alternative side view of an adult.
  • Alternative view of mouth and snout.
  • Alternative view of the head region.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Suckers (Catostomidae)
Body
Mouth and snout: Inferior, no teeth on jaws. No barbels. Body patterning, color, and scales: Mottling and irregular blotches. Body usually olive, tan, or brown with mottling and large irregular blotches of darker brown or black on sides and extending on to back as saddles. Abrupt change to cream or yellow on belly. Pectoral and pelvic fins with dusky mottling; other fins more evenly pigmented, ranging from dark brown to reddish brown to yellow or sometimes clear (especially anal fin). 46-54 (usually 47-51) cycloid lateral line scales. Body shape and size: Body dorsal-ventrally flattened with a rounded back and a relatively elongate narrow caudal peduncle; approximately round (with flattened ventral surface) in cross section. Typically 200-350 mm (8-14 in) TL; maximum about 500 mm (20 in).
Fins
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Forked tail. Single dorsal with no spines and 9-12 (usually 11-12) rays. Pelvic fins abdominal. Adipose fin absent. Anal fin with 7-8 (usually 7) rays.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The northern hog sucker is unique in having a concavity on the top of the head between the eyes, an elongated and narrow caudal peduncle, numerous, extensive blotches on its sides as an adult, and a lower lip that is broad and fleshy throughout. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Males with minute small tubercles over head, anal, pelvic, and caudal fins, and sometimes scales; females with a few minute tubercles on fins.
Juveniles
Similar to adults.
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, margin 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 scales, 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 depth; 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, SpottedSpots 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 HogN/A
Sucker, SpottedModerately similar
Sucker, WhiteModerately similar
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