Quillback
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view of an adult with unusually long anterior dorsal rays.
  • Side view of two 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 head: The line are indicating distances: eye-preopercle corner and eye-upper gill cleft; the lines are about equal in length
  • Close-up mouth: The lips form an acute angle and have no nipple at the tip; there are no barbels.
  • Close-up head: Notice that the tip of the lower lip is well in advance of the nostrils and there is a "notch" anterior to the nostrils.
  • Notice that the longest dorsal ray is about equal to the dorsal fin base; there is no spine, there are 22-30 rays.
  • Notice the rounded back; the body depth is 32-38% of SL, the head length is 26-32% of SL; the sides are silvery.
  • Close-up anal fin: Notice that the anal fin is unpigmented; there is no spine, there are 7-8 rays.
  • Close-up pelvic fin: Notice that the pelvic fin is clear.
  • Close-up head area of a breeder: Notice the numerous tubercles on head and scales.
  • Close-up head of a breeder: Notice the numerous tubercles on the head.
  • Close-up pectoral fin of a breeder: Notice the tubercles on the anterior rays.
  • Close-up mouth of a breeder: Notice the numerous tubercles on the head.
  • Close-up pelvic fin: Notice the tubercles on the anterior rays.
  • Anterior top view of a breeder: Notice the numerous tubercles on head and back.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: Juveniles are less deep-bodied and have larger eyes relative to adults.
  • Alternative side view of an adult.
  • View of intestine: Notice the helical (spiral) coiling anteriorly.
  • Alternative side view of an adult.
  • Alternative view of the mouth.
  • Alternative view of the mouth.
  • Alternative view of the head.
  • Alternate side view of an adult.
  • Underside of head: Quillback (right) lips form an acute angle and lack a nipple; river carpsucker (left) lips form an obtuse angle with a nipple.
  • Close-up mouth of a river carpsucker X quillback hybrid: The hybrid has a quillback body form, but river carpsucker mouth.
  • Side view of a river carpsucker X quillback hybrid: The hybrid has a quillback body form, but river carpsucker mouth.
  • Close-up mouth of a river carpsucker X quillback hybrid: The hybrid has a quillback body form, but river carpsucker mouth.
  • Side view of a river carpsucker X quillback hybrid: The hybrid has a quillback body form, but a river carpsucker mouth.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Suckers (Catostomidae)
Body
Mouth and snout: Inferior, no teeth on jaws. No barbels. Body patterning, color, and scales: Solid color. Body overall silvery, grading from olive-brown on back to white or cream on the belly. Fins usually clear. 36-40 cycloid lateral line scales. Body shape and size: Body laterally compressed and deep; oval in cross section. Typically 350-450 mm (14-18 in) TL; maximum in Wisconsin about 600 mm (23.5 in).
Fins
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Forked tail. Single dorsal with no spines and 22-30 rays; first few rays elongated. Pelvic fins abdominal. Adipose fin absent. Anal fin with 7-8 rays.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The quillback can be distinguished by the presence of a fontanelle (hole) in the roof of the skull between the eyes, a paper-thin pharyngeal arch, linear in cross-section, and a helical (spiral) pattern of coiling of the intestine. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Males with numerous minute tubercles on head and pectoral and pelvic rays (photos).
Juveniles
Somewhat less deep-bodied with a less sharply arched back and a relatively larger eye (photos).
Hybrids
River carpsucker X quillback (photos); quillback X highfin carpsucker.
Compare Similar Species
Lower Lips
Carpsucker, HighfinForm an abtuse angle (>120°); small knob or nipple at tip; tip about equal with nostrils in side view
Carpsucker, RiverForm an abtuse angle (>120°); small knob or nipple at tip; tip about equal with nostrils in side view
QuillbackForm an abtuse angle (<90°); no knob at tip; tip clearly forward of nostrils in side view
Longest Dorsal Ray
Carpsucker, HighfinLength of ray usually more than the length of the dorsal fin base (but ray sometimes broken)
Carpsucker, RiverLength of ray when depressed about 50-70% the length of the dorsal fin base
QuillbackLength of ray variable (and sometimes broken), ranging from about 70-110% the length of the dorsal fin base
Body Profile
Carpsucker, HighfinSteeply arched back; BD 38-45% of SL; HL 24-27% of SL; short snout, seldom with "notch" anterior to nostrils in lateral view
Carpsucker, RiverArched back, body depth (BD) 32-43% of standard length (SL); head length (HL) 24-29% of SL, short snout, seldom with "notch" anterior to nostrils in lateral view
QuillbackRounded back, BD 32-38% of SL; HL 26-32% of SL; snout relatively long, usually with "notch" anterior to nostrils in lateral view
Similarity Index
Carpsucker, HighfinVery similar
Carpsucker, RiverVery similar
QuillbackN/A
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