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Northern Hogsucker

Northern Hogsucker or Box Head

The Northern Hogsucker (Hypentelium nigricans) is a ray-finned freshwater fish in the Catostomidae family. Native to the United States and Canada. Other names for the fish include Hogsucker, Hog Molly, and Box Head.


Northern Hogsucker

While the Northern Hogsucker has a medium sized slender body, they have a large, square, bony head. Generally, have mottled olive-brown bodies becoming whitish on the belly.

Four to six irregular dark crossbar saddles occur on their backs. The large head appears wider than their tapering bodies. While bumps cover their highly protrusible lips.

Meanwhile their eyes seem much closer to the rear edge of the gill cover then to the tip of their snout.  While they have large pectoral fins, short upper dorsal fins, a forked tail and a lateral line that extends from the nape to the tail fin.

Biology of the Northern Hogsucker

Inhabit clear, fast-flowing medium-sized streams and small rivers where they may be found in or next to riffle areas in warm water. However, they may also occur in cold water streams, tiny creeks, large rivers and occasionally in reservoirs.

Northern Hogsucker Distribution

Native to southern Canada and the south-eastern United States. Generally, occurring in the rivers of the Mississippi River Basin, extending from Oklahoma and Alabama northwards to Minnesota. Meanwhile they occur in the Great Lakes and rivers in the mid-Atlantic region.

While their current range is similar to their historic range, they have been extirpated in certain areas including states such as South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas.

Conservation and Management

While the Northern Hogsucker has a wide range and their numbers have remained stable, they may be susceptible to man-made disturbances such as channelization, sedimentation, pollution, and dam construction.

Currently the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) rates the fish as a species of least concern. Therefore, little to no management and conservation exists for this species. While lack of spawning habitats could be detrimental in the future and should be closely monitored.


Other species in the Hypentelium genus

Roanoke Hogsucker (Hypentelium roanokense)

Alabama Hogsucker (Hypentelium etowanum)

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Northern Hogsucker

by Paula Goble time to read: 2 min




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