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Wildlife Suckermouth Minnow Page


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This photograph may be used for non-commercial purposes.  Please give credit to the photographer.
Photo by: John Woodling
 Suckermouth Minnow
 Phenacobius mirabilis

Habitat: The suckermouth minnow is usually found in riffle areas of warm prairie streams of all sizes with low to moderate currents and year-round flows. This species is more tolerant of silty waters than many other fish (Miller and Robison 1973), but does appear to require permanent flows. Propst (1982) suggested that the suckermouth minnow is restricted to the mainstem South Platte because of the lack of permanent tributaries in the lower reaches of that stream in Colorado. The fish lives on the riffle bottoms in both mid-channel and side channel areas. Preferred stream substrate is gravel and sandy gravel.

Description: A slender minnow, mouth on underside of head with lobed, sucker-like lips, no cartilaginous ridge inside lower lip; no barbers; snout blunt, extending beyond upper lip; diameter of eye less than length of snout; 8 dorsal fin rays; 7 anal fin rays, lateral line scales usually less than 50 (40-48); intestine short with one s-shaped loop; peritoneum silvery; pharyngeal teeth 4-4. There is often a darker-horizontal stripe running from the head to the end of the caudal peduncle. A conspicuous dark spot is located at the end of this lateral stripe. The fish is darker above this stripe and white below. The horizontal stripe may be obscure and the sides may appear silver. Adults range in size from 2 to 5 inches in length.

Range in Colorado: In Colorado, the species is limited to the eastern plains, in portions of the mainstem South Platte and lower mainstem and some tributaries of the Arkansas Rivers. In addition, the species is a rare inhabitant of the Arikaree River, a tributary of the Republican River (Cancalosi 1980).

Status: State Endangered






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