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Wildlife Mountain Sucker Page


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This photograph may be used for non-commercial purposes.  Please give credit to the photographer.
Photo by: John Woodling
 Mountain Sucker
 Catostomus platyrhynchus

Habitat: The mountain sucker is found in smaller rivers and streams with gravel, sand and mud bottoms. Colorado specimens are found in areas of undercut banks, eddies, small pools, and in areas of moderate current. Young prefer backwaters and eddies. A population of mature adults is found in at least one Colorado impoundment, Steamboat Lake.

Description: A stout sucker; head small and rounded; median incision of lower lip shallow; separated from margin of lower lip by 4 or more rows of papillae; there may be a well-developed fontanelle that can be exposed by removing skin overlaying skull; pigment on caudal fins mostly restricted to rays, inter-radial membranes may be clear or have a few small spots; an axillary process present; lining of body cavity black or dusky; lateral line scales 76-97, normally 80-85. Adults are dark brown or tan fading to white on the belly. Dark mottling shaped like saddles across the back may be present in some specimens. Breeding males with a red-orange stripe on sides. Young less than 2 inches long are silver-tan on the back fading to silver-white on the stomach with dark speckles on the back. A smallish fish, this species attains a maximum length of about 8 inches (Sigler and Miller 1963) with a normal range of 3.2-6.3 inches for adults.

Range in Colorado: A widely distributed species, the mountain sucker ranges from Washington north to Saskatchewan down to Montana, east to the western edge of South Dakota through Wyoming and west to Utah including the Green River in Colorado (Smith and Koehn 1971). Although reported by many investigators in Colorado, there are few known specimens of the mountain sucker. Mountain suckers have been collected in the White River Basin (Piceance Creek) and the Yampa River Basin (Steamboat Lake). Only one record of mountain sucker (Snyder 1981) exists from the upper reaches of the Colorado River system. No specimens have been reported from the drainage south of the Colorado River mainstem.

Status: State Special Concern






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