White Sucker

August 19, 2021

White Sucker

White Sucker or Mullet

The White Sucker (Catostomus commersonii) inhabits freshwater waters. While this cypriniform fish forms part of the Catostomidae family. Native to Midwest and northeast Northern America. But may also occur as far south as Georgia and New Mexico.

Known as a sucker due to their fleshy, papillose lips that they use to suck up organic matter and aufwuchs from river and stream substrates.

Other names for the fish include Sucker, Eastern Sucker, Bay Fish, Brook Sucker, Gray Sucker, Mud Sucker, Slender Sucker, Whitehorse, Common Sucker, Ojibwe, and Mullet.

While White Sucker fish often get confused with the Longnose Sucker (Catostomus catostomus) due to their similar looks.

Description of the Mullet

White Sucker or Mullet

A long, round bodied fish with a dark green, grey, copper, brown or black back and sides. While the belly appears light. Generally, reach between twelve and twenty inches in length and weigh from two to six pounds.

Further, have a homocercal tail, cycloid scales, and dorsal, pectoral, and pelvic fin rays. Located in an inferior position at the bottom of their heads, the fish has fleshy, papillose lips.

While confused with other suckers and redhorse, the complete lateral line system consisting of 55 to 85 small scales distinguishes them.

The straight or slightly concave dorsal fin consists of 10 to 13 rays. While the anal fin has 7 rays and the pelvic fin between 10 and 11 rays.

The IGFA world record for the White Sucker currently stands at 6 pounds 8 ounces with a fish taken in 1984 from Rainy River near Loman in Minnesota.

Biology of the White Sucker

Inhabit a wide range of environments due to the high adaptability. However, they prefer small streams, rivers and lakes in the Midwest and east coast of the United States. White Sucker fish may tolerate turbid and polluted waters. But the breeding success becomes lower in acidified waters.


The White Sucker occurs natively in the Atlantic, Arctic, Great Lakes, Mississippi River Basin from continental Newfoundland to Mackenzie River, Northwest Territories, south to the Tennessee River Drainage, Alabama River Drainage, Arkansas River Drainage, New Mexico, south on the Atlantic Slope to Santee River Drainage, South Carolina, the upper Rio Grande Drainage, New Mexico. As well as Skeena River Drainage and Fraser River Drainage, and British Columbia.

While nonindigenous occurrences include Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. The most probable means of distribution is through bait bucket releases.

Some waters where the White Sucker occurs


Big River, Little Missouri River, Little Arkansas River, Ouachita River, and White River

New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
South Carolina

Management and Conservation

The White Sucker does not receive any special conservation status as these robust, common, and wide-ranging species have large population sizes and may be considered of least concern to according to the IUCN Red List. There numbers remain stable and constant and little to no management is required.


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