Picture by Chad Thomas, Texas State University-San Marcos



Erimyzon sucetta

lake chubsucker



Type Locality

South Carolina (Lacepede 1803).


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

Erimyzon, Greek, meaning “to suck”; sucetta, from the French sucet, “a sucker,” or “sucking fish” (Pflieger 1975).



Cyprinus sucetta Lacepède 1803:606 in Eschmeyer 1990.

Erimyzon sucetta Hay 1881:513, 1883:74; Cook 1959:85.



Maximum size: 394mm TL (Carlander 1969).


Life colors: Back with cresentic scale marks; color pattern (except in young with two dark stripes) consists of narrow vertical bars (Hubbs et al. 1991). The back and upper sides are dark green or olive green to brown, becoming lighter on the sides. The undersides of the body are silvery white. Scale margins are outlined in black, giving the sides a cross-hatched appearance. Fins are dusky, although the caudal fin may have a reddish tinge. Young fish have very faint vertical bars on the sides and a wide, black horizontal stripe running from the base of the tail to the snout. The band becomes faint or absent in large individuals (Ross 2001).


Counts: 80 or more pharyngeal teeth (short and fragile) per arch (Becker 1983); 34-38 (usually 36 to 38) longitudinal scale rows; 4 to 18 dorsal fin rays (Hubbs et al. 1991); 7 anal rays, 15 pectoral rays, and 9 pelvic rays (Ross 2001).


Body shape: Laterally compressed (Ross 2001); eye larger (eye approximately one half snout length; Hubbs et al. 1991); intestine long with several coils (Goldstein and Simon 1999).


Mouth position: Subterminal and oblique (Hubbs et al. 1991).


External morphology: Lateral line always absent; air bladder with two chambers; dorsal fin base less than one-fourth standard length (Hubbs et al. 1991); rounded dorsal fin that originates at the point of greatest body depth (Ross 2001). Breeding males with 3 or 4 large tubercles on each side of snout (Boschung and Mayden 2004).


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution: Occurs widely in the Mississippi, Gulf of Mexico, and southeastern Atlantic seaboard drainages to Virginia (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Texas distribution: Ranges in state, primarily through eastern portion from the Red River to the Brazos; a disjunct population has been recorded in the upper Guadalupe River (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Abundance/Conservation status (Federal, State, NGO)

Not listed as threatened or endangered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

(2006). Populations in the southern United States are currently secure (Warren et al. 2000).


Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat: Occupies ponds, oxbows, sloughs, impoundments, and similar waters of little or no flow (Wall and Gilbert 1980). More common in lake and ponds as opposed to streams (Ross 2001).


Mesohabitat: Clear water, having bottoms of sand or silt mixed with organic debris; aquatic vegetation usually present (Wall and Gilbert 1980; Werner et al. 1978; Trautman 1981). Stream habitats are characterized by moderate to slow currents in relatively deep pools (Meffe and Sheldon 1988). E. sucetta was a new species collected from Longtown Creek (tributary of the South Canadian River), in Oklahoma, in a clear, vegetated pool with rocky substrate (Pigg and Gibbs 1995). Species can tolerate low oxygen thresholds in winterkill lakes; in Michigan, lake chubsucker had a toleration level of approximately 0.4-0.3 ppm (Cooper and Washburn 1949).



Spawning season: Based on laboratory studies, March to May (later stage larvae prefer temperatures of 28-34 degrees C; Negus et al. 1987).


Spawning habitat: Phytolithophils; nonobligatory plant spawner that deposit eggs on submerged items, have late hatching larvae with cement glands in free embryos, have larvae with moderately developed respiratory structures, and have larvae that are photophobic (Simon 1999; Balon 1981). Cooper (1935) indicated that eggs were scattered over aquatic vegetation including moss, filamentous algae, and grass stubble. Carr (1942) reported an association between lake chubsuckers and largemouth bass nests and in which lake chubsuckers laid their eggs in active largemouth bass nests and the developing eggs would be protected from predators by largemouth bass.


Reproductive strategy:


Fecundity: Eggs demersal and adhesive, averaging 2 mm in diameter; hatching occurs in 6-7 days at 23-30 degrees C and in 4-5 days at 20-22 degrees C (Fuiman 1979, 1982; Kay et al. 1994). Individuals of 259-347 mm TL produce an average of 18,478 mature eggs (Shireman et al. 1978). Fertilized eggs hatch in about 72 hours at 22-25 degrees C (Hiltabran 1967).


Age at maturation: Cooper (1935) found that both sexes reach maturity in their third summer of life.




Growth and population structure: Individuals grow rapidly during the first 3 or 4 summers of life, after which the growth rate drops quickly (Cooper 1935). Based on North Carolina populations, TL after one year is 61mm; TL for 2-6 years: 145mm, 198mm, 240mm, 261mm and 278mm, respectively (Carlander 1969). Protolarvae are 5-6 mm TL at hatching (Kay et al. 1994).


Longevity: Approximately 8 years (Carlander 1969).


Food habits: Invertivore/herbivore (Goldstein and Simon 1999). Major food items in streams include midge larvae (Dipteran), detritus and algae, small clams, and water mites (Sheldon and Meffe 1993). Pond-reared fish consumed items including detritus, filamentous algae, zooplankton (cladocerans, copepods, ostracods), and midge larvae (Shireman et al. 1978). Copepods, cladocerans, and midge larvae (Dipteran) and pupae were also an important prey of a lake population of chubsuckers (Ewers and Boesel 1935).


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes

Erimyzon sucetta is most closely related to Erimyzon oblongus (Smith 1992) and the two species are known to hybridize (Hanley 1977).


Lake chubsuckers are difficult to distinguish from creek chubsuckers. The origin of the dorsal fin is usually over the point of greatest body depth in creek chubsuckers. Compared to lake chubsuckers, creek chubsuckers have more cylindrical bodies, lighter colored fins, and less deeply emarginated caudal fins (Ross 2001).


Host Records

Protozoa: myxobolus globosus, M.oblongus; Trematoda; Cestoda; Nematoda; Acanthocephala; Crustacea (Hoffman1967). Gyrodactylus lacustricolae (Harris et al. 2004).


Commercial or Environmental Importance

Bennett and Childers (1966) state that lake chubsuckers are good forage for predators, and largemouth bass feed readily upon the fry; the authors propose that the species be stocked as forage fish in artificial ponds, quarry pits, and small lakes, for those owners interested in bass fishing.

[Additional literature noting collection of this species from Texas locations includes, but is not limited to the following: Hubbs (1957).]



Balon E. K. 1981. Additions and amendments to the classification of reproductive styles in fishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes. 6:377-389.

Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. 1052 pp.

Bennett, G.W., and W.F. Childers. 1966. The lake chubsucker as a forage species. Progressive Fish Culturist 28(2):89-92.

Carlander, K.D. 1969. Handbook of Freshwater fishery biology. Vol.1. The Iowa State Univ. Press, Ames.

Carr, M.H. 1942. The breeding habits, embryology, and larval development of large mouth black bass in Florida. Proc. New England Zool. Club. 20:43-77.

Cook, F.A. 1959. Freshwater fishes in Mississippi. Mississippi Game and Fish Commision, Jackson.

Cooper G.P. 1935. Some results of forage fish investigations in Michigan. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 65:132-142.

Cooper, G.P., and G.N. Washburn. 1949. Relation of dissolved oxygen to winter mortality of fish in lakes. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 76(1946):23-33.

Eschmeyer, W.N. 1990. Catalog of genera of recent fishes. California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco.

Fuiman, L.A. 1979. Descriptions and comparisons of catostomid fish larvae: north Atlantic drainage species. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 108(6):560-603.

Fuiman, L.A. 1982. Family Catostomidae, suckers, pp. 345-435. In: Identification of larval fishes of the Great Lakes Basin with emphasis on the Lake Michigan drainage. N.A. Auer, ed. Spec. Publ., no. 82-83, Great Lake Fisheries Commission, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Goldstein, R.M., and T.P. Simon. 1999. Toward a united definition of guild structure for feeding ecology of North American freshwater fishes. pp. 123-202 in T.P. Simon, editor. Assessing the sustainability and biological integrity of water resources using fish communities. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.

Harris, P.D., A.P.Shinn, J. Cable and T.A. Bakke. 2004. Nominal species of the genus Gyrodactylus von Nordman 1832 (Monogenea: Gyrodactylidae), with a list of Principal host species. Systematic Parasitology 59:1-27, 2004.

Hay, O.P. 1881. On a collection of fishes from eastern Mississippi. Proc. U.S. Nat. Mus. 3:488-515.

Hay, O.P. 1883. On a collection of fishes from the lower Mississippi Valley. Bull. U.S. Fish Comm. 2:57-75.

Hiltabran, R.C. 1967. Effects of some herbicides on fertilized fish eggs and fry. Transactions American Fisheries Society 96(4):414-416.

Hoffman G.L. 1967. Parasites of North American Freshwater Fishes. University of California Press. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA. 486 pp.

Hubbs, C. 1957. Distributional patterns of Texas fresh-water fishes. The Southwestern Naturalist 2(2/3):89-104.

Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards and G.P. Garret. 1991. An annotated checklist of freshwater fishes of Texas, with key to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 43(4):1-56.

Kay, L.K., R. Wallus, and B.L. Yeager. 1994. Reproductive Biology and Early Life History of Fishes in the Ohio River Drainage. Vol. 2. Catostomidae. Tennessee Valley Authority, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Lacepède, B.G. 1803. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Vol. 5. Paris, France.

Lesueur, C. A. 1829. Canthuras nigro-maculatus. pp 65 In: Cuvier, G. and A. Valenciennes. [1829] 1969. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Vol. 3. A. Asher and Co., Amsterdam. 500 pp.

Meffe, G.K., and A.L. Sheldon. 1988. The influence of habitat structure on fish assemblage composition in southeastern blackwater streams. American Midland Naturalist 120(2):225-240.

Pflieger, W.L. 1997. The Fishes of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City. 372 pp.

Pigg, J., and R. Gibbs. 1995. Occurrences of catostomid fishes (suckers) in the North Canadian River and Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma. Proc. Okla. Acad. Sci. 75 :7-12.

Ross, S. T. 2001. The Inland Fishes of Mississippi. University Press of Mississippi 624 pp.

Sheldon, A.L. and G.K. Meffe. 1993. Multivariate analysis of feeding relationships of fishes in backwater streams. Env. Biol. Fish. 37:161-171.

Shireman, J.V., R.L. Steeler, and E.E. Colle. 1978. Possible use of lake chubsucker as a baitfish. Prog. Fish-Cult. 40(1):33-34.

Simon, T. P. 1999. Assessment of Balon’s reproductive guilds with application to Midwestern North American Freshwater Fishes, pp. 97-121. In: Simon, T.L. (ed.). Assessing the sustainability and biological integrity of water resources using fish communities. CRC Press. Boca Raton, Florida. 671 pp.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Wildlife Division, Diversity and Habitat Assessment Programs. County Lists of Texas' Special Species. [30 May 2006]. Available online at http://gis.tpwd.state.tx.us/TpwEndangeredSpecies/DesktopModules/AcountyCodeKeyForWebESDatabases.pdf

Trautman, M.B. 1981. The Fishes of Ohio. Rev. ed. Ohio State Univ. Press, Columbus.

Wall, B.R. Jr. and Gilbert C.R. 1980. Emrimyzon sucetta (Lacepede), Lake chubsucker. pp. 399 in D.S. Lee et al. Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. N.C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, i-r+854 pp.

Warren, L. W., Jr., B. M. Burr, S. J. Walsh, H. L. Bart, Jr., R. C. Cashner, D. A. Etnier, B. J. Freeman, B. R. Kuhajda, R. L. Mayden, H. W. Robison, S. T. Ross, and W. C. Starnes. 2000. Diversity, Distribution, and Conservation status of the native freshwater fishes of the southern United States. Fisheries, Conservation. 25(10):7-29.