White Sucker - Catostomus commersoni
FWP Conservation Tier
The white sucker is quite adaptable. It has been collected from virtually all types of water in Montana: muddy, clear, warm, cold, running and standing. As the position of the mouth suggests, it feeds on the bottom and eats an omnivorous diet of detritus and insects. The white sucker is distributed throughout Montana's eastern drainage and is present in our northern watershed as well. They are most abundant in the many reservoirs of eastern Montana. In Montana the largest specimens have been about 5 pounds. Large females can produce over 100,000 eggs and suckers can produce large populations in short periods of time. Any type of attempted population control by man is usually a losing proposition. (FWP) See Snyder and Muth (1990) for a guide to the identification of larvae and early juveniles.
Color is dusky olive brown to nearly black above, shading to cream or white below. Dorsal fin has 11 to 13 rays. Scales are medium sized, 60 to 75 in lateral line.
Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations:
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(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)
Often move into tributary streams to spawn. Tongue River study showed migration into Otter Creek.
Extremely varied. Present in both lakes and streams under a wide variety of considerations, but avoids rapid current. Reaches maximum abundance in man-made impoundments. Spawns over gravel or rocky shoals.
Adults feed on bottom organisms such as aquatic invertebrate diatoms, other algae, and debris.
Young provide considerable forage for game species. White sucker x longnose sucker hybrids have been found in several places in Montana.
Sexually mature in 3rd or 4th year. Spawns from April into June. Spawners usually move upstream. Eggs hatch in 12-20 days at 50 degrees F. Spawned early April-early May in Tongue River study.