White 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.
  • The sides show a solid to faintly blotched color and 55-85 lateral line scales.
  • Close-up dorsal fin: There are 10-13 dorsal rays, the margin is slightly concave.
  • Close-up head: The snout barely extends past the upper lip.
  • Close-up mouth/snout: The fleshy and papillose lower lips form an acute angle.
  • Close-up flank: The flanks show a solid to faintly blotched/mottled color.
  • Side view of a breeder: The flanks in breeders show a broad, diffuse lateral stripe and tubercles on the anal and tail fins.
  • Close-up head of a breeder: Breeders develop fine tubercles on top of their heads.
  • Anterior dorsal view of a breeder: Breeders develop fine tubercles on nape and dorsal surface.
  • Side view of a breeding male: The flanks in breeders shows a dark broad lateral stripe.
  • Close-up caudal region of a breeder: Breeders develop large tubercles on their anal and tail fins.
  • Close-up dorsal fin of a breeder: Breeders develop fine tubercles on their dorsal rays.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: Juveniles are similar to adults, but lack blotches on their sides.
  • Comparison longnose sucker and white sucker: The longnose sucker has a longer snout and smaller scales than the white sucker.
  • 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: Solid color or mottled and irregular blotches (but see also Breeding adults). Body usually olive, tan, gray, or brown, sometimes with irregular darker mottling (see also Juveniles). Belly whitish. Tail and dorsal fin slate colored; other fins usually clear or whitish with limited dark pigment. 55-85 (usually 60-70) cycloid lateral line scales. Body shape and size: Body fusiform or slightly dorsal-ventrally flattened and elongate; approximately round in cross section (flattened on ventral surface). Typically 300-450 mm (12-18 in) TL; maximum about 600 mm (24 in).
Fins
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Forked tail. Single dorsal with no spines and 10-13 rays. Pelvic fins abdominal. Adipose fin absent. Anal fin with 7 rays.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The white sucker is unique in having the combination of 55-85 lateral line scales and 10-13 dorsal rays. It can also be distinguished by its number of dorsal rays (10-13), lateral line scales (55-85), and its lower lip that is broad and fleshy throughout. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Males with tubercles on head, scales, anal, and caudal fin (photos). Males also with black or crimson broad lateral stripe (photos).
Juveniles
Similar to adults, but often with three large irregular blotches on flanks (photos).
Hybrids
None confirmed from Wisconsin.
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, LongnoseVery similar
Sucker, Northern HogModerately similar
Sucker, SpottedModerately similar
Sucker, WhiteN/A
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