Did You Know? 19 Incredible Longnose Sucker Facts

Longnose sucker facts talk about their breeding period in mid-April.

On your first look at a suckerfish, you might be perplexed to see that such a species can exist. Among the many species of suckerfish that we have in this world, longnose suckers are especially extant to North America and some parts of Russia. This fish can dwell in extremely cold areas, and it is the only suckerfish species present in Alaska. The home range of this fish is in the northern continental United States, eastern Alaska, and Canada. In the north, the range extends to Kugluktuk, while it extends to the Great Lakes in the south.

The dorsal side of this fish is dark olive, and during the spawning season, a reddish line or stripe can be seen in the bodies of males. These fishes have iconic protruding lips that allow them to churn through the bottom substrate of habitats to look for food. An interesting thing about this fish is that it follows the lateral line system to steer clear of predators. Even though this fish has a stable population, it is constantly preyed upon by other fishes or used as bait by humans from fishing.

Want to know more about this river and lake-dwelling fish? Keep reading to get fascinating longnose sucker facts. Also, check out the articles on spotted catfish and desert sucker to know more about fishes.

Longnose Sucker

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Mollusks, aquatic invertebrates, whitefish eggs

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

16,000-60,000 eggs

How much do they weigh?

1-7 lb (0.4-3.1 kg)

How long are they?

8-25 in (20.3-63.5 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Olive-brown, reddish-brown

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Largemouth bass, walleye, brook trout, northern pike, bald eagle, herons, river otters, sea lamprey

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Freshwater rivers, lakes, large-order and small-order streams, marine environments


Canada, US, Russia





Scientific Name

Catostomus catostomus





Longnose Sucker Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a longnose sucker?

The longnose sucker (Catostomus catostomus) is a freshwater fish from the order Cypriniformes that lives mainly in North America.

What class of animal does a longnose sucker belong to?

The longnose sucker belongs to the class Actinopterygii and the genus Catostomus.

How many longnose suckers are there in the world?

As a commonly found fish that has a great population, it is really hard to specify the exact population strength of this fish.

Where does a longnose sucker live?

The longnose suckers are native to North America, while some populations are also found in Russia, especially in rivers of eastern Siberia. It is said to have been introduced by people. If we look at the Northern range, it stretches to the Northwest Territories of Canada. The cold northeast point in Canada is around Kugluktuk. Even in the south, this fish is found in James Bay and towards the northern areas of Erik Cove. You will also find these fishes in the Lake Koocanusa present in British Columbia and Montana. In the United States, the fish does appear in the cold, clear water of the Great Lakes and Lake Erie. On the western side, we find a prolific population in the cold, clear waters of Alaska, and it is the only suckerfish species present in cold Alaska.

What is a longnose sucker's habitat?

As we have mentioned before, longnose suckers prefer cold, clear freshwater habitats. Hence, populations of the fish are mostly found in streams, rivers, and lakes. A shallow river basin with the perfect amount of gravel provides a nourishing habitat to this species. The longnose sucker dwells in the benthic zone and feeds by using its protruding lips. Some of the fishes can be seen in brackish environments of the Arctic streams. This fish dwells at an average depth of 32.8 ft (10 m) but can go deeper, and it prefers a temperature range of 32-59°F (0- 15℃). Temperature changes may lead to a variation in its growth. For instance, fishes present in streams of Alaska have shorter growth compared to the other populations.

Who does the longnose sucker live with?

Apart from the spawning season, the longnose sucker (Catostomus catostomus) is a solitary fish. You can find it navigating through lakes, rivers, and streams in search of food. During the spawning season, the fish will move towards a shallow part of the rivers, lakes, or streams to lay eggs. At this time, you will often find the species swimming in small schools to avoid predators and to stay alert from predators.

How long does a longnose sucker live?

The expected average lifespan of the longnose suckers is around 12-19 years in the wild. However, this timeframe may vary depending on the habitats and temperatures that the fish has been exposed to. In the past, some longnose suckers have been able to live up to 21 years.

How do they reproduce?

Reproduction helps the survival of species, and so during the spawning season, females of this species can spawn a phenomenal number of eggs. The range is usually between 16,000-60,000 eggs. Spawning mainly occurs in mid-April when the temperature is slightly warmer, so the fish migrates to a gravel-filled shallow part of streams or lakes for spawning. Three to four males surround a female in hopes of getting a chance. When the pair is selected, males will hold the female with its fins, and both will spawn the gametes at the same time for an increased chance of fertilization.

Multiple groups will spawn in the river or streams at the same time. Rather than using nests, the fish lets the eggs drop into the gravels present at the bottom of the river or streams. The parents do not have a role to play after the spawning is over. Moreover, both males and the females mate with other partners. Many fishes also stay back in the shallower waters after the mid-April spawning. It takes around 7-15 days for the eggs to hatch, but a little more time might be required in colder places. The fry will remain in the gravel for almost two weeks before it ventures out, looking to feed on plankton. It takes two to three years for the fish to reach sexual maturity.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies the longnose suckers with the status of Least Concern. Even though this isn't an endangered fish, its life is still threatened, especially by water pollution. The rising water temperature also makes the life of this fish hard as the adverse change can affect its populations. This fish is endangered only in the Monongahela river basin. Moreover, for some reason, the populations of this fish are also missing from the Delaware river basin, New York.

Longnose Sucker Fun Facts

What does longnose sucker look like?

North American fish enthusiasts would like longnose sucker facts.

Most of the suckerfish species have a similar look because of their cylindrical bodies and protruding lips from their snout. The most striking thing about the longnose sucker fish is its color. People often confuse it with the white sucker, which they shouldn't, as the longnose suckers have an upper body that is usually dark olive with a tinge of red or brown. White suckers, on the other hand, have almost fully white bodies without a visible line. The body of the longnose suckers is covered in tiny scales, which gives it a smooth look and makes it more slippery. Its fins tend to be quite long, and soft rays are present on the dorsal fins.

The dark olive and reddish color of the upper body is contrasted with a more yellowish or silvery color on the lateral body. In contrast, the ventral side can often be milk-white. A stark change is seen in the males during the spawning season as a bright red line becomes visible, stretching from its head to tail. The juvenile looks a little different as it has a dark gray upper side speckled with black dots.

How cute are they?

We wouldn't really call a longnose sucker (Catostomus catostomus) fish cute or attractive, but you can surely check the fish out yourself to give it a justified rating.

How do they communicate?

When you see a suckerfish, you will likely undermine its capabilities. However, like other suckerfish variants, the longnose is also quite intelligent. This fish mainly uses the lateral line system or lateralis system, where the tactile sensation is the main form of communication. These species of sucker can feel vibrations from its habitat that helps it to stay clear from a predatory fish species like lamprey or hagfish. The longnose suckers can also release pheromones if their skin is damaged; this is a way to alert their conspecifics about the presence of a predator. Along with great vision, the longnose suckers are also sensitive to sounds and have a hearing range that extends between 100-1600 Hz. A keen sense of smell also helps these fishes to survive in their native habitat by figuring out the food.

How big is a longnose sucker?

The average body length range of the longnose sucker (Catostomus catostomus) fish is around 8-25 in (20.3-63.5 cm). These are relatively small to medium-sized fish species. Contrastingly, another freshwater river-dwelling fish, the blue catfish, has an average length range of 25–60 in (63.5–152.4 cm).

How fast can a longnose sucker swim?

We are yet to know about the swimming speed of the longnose sucker.

How much does a longnose sucker weigh?

The average weight range of the longnose sucker (Catostomus catostomus) fish is around 1-7 lb (0.4-3.1 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names for the males and females of this species. Sexual dimorphism is seen in this species of sucker, and the females tend to be on the larger side.

What would you call a baby longnose sucker?

A baby longnose sucker can be called a fry.

What do they eat?

Longnose suckers are called bottom feeders, so these fishes usually use its mouth to sieve through the gravel present in the streams, lakes, or river basins in search of food. Adult longnose suckers are omnivorous in nature as it has a combined diet of benthic algae, crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic plants, and zooplankton. On the other hand, juveniles survive their first year feeding on planktons before moving on to other food sources. This fish can also prey on the eggs of a lake whitefish, especially those that come to spawn in Lake Huron. The longnose suckers have protruding lips from its head, which helps filter through the gravel of the surface to catch the food without fail.

Are they dangerous?

No, these aren't dangerous fishes, and they wouldn't really attack any human being. However, this fish isn't really preferred either for recreational fishing or human consumption.

Would they make a good pet?

There aren't many regulations that prevent keeping the longnose sucker (Catostomus catostomus) as a pet. Hence, you can certainly keep this fish if you can give it a suitable habitat. However, we will still suggest you consult the local guidelines to ensure that it is legal to have this fish with you as a pet.

Did you know...

The longnose sucker fish is often eaten by predatory fish like the sea lampreys, largemouth bass, walleye, brook trout, and northern pike. Sometimes even the white suckers attack the fry of this fish, destroying and eating the babies.

One of the habits of longnose suckers is to spawn during the daytime.

The white sucker and longnose sucker may also form hybrids as both the fishes have habits of spawning in similar areas in mid-April.

What are the lakes in which one can find longnose sucker?

The longnose sucker is found in the Great Lakes as well as in Lake Erie. In British Columbia, the fish can also be found in Lake Koocanusa.

Is longnose sucker endemic?

The longnose sucker is endemic to North America. There is another population of this sucker species that is found in rivers of eastern Siberia, in Russia.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these peacock bass facts and king salmon facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable suckerfish coloring pages.

*Please note that this image and the second image are of a white sucker, which belongs to the same genus as the longnose sucker. If you have an image of a longnose sucker, please let us know at



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