The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Phenacobius mirabilis
Phenacobius mirabilis
(Suckermouth Minnow)
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Phenacobius mirabilis (Girard, 1856)

Common name: Suckermouth Minnow

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Phenacobius mirabilis have a bicolored body: olive brown coloring along the dorsal side with silver white on the ventral side separated by a thin dark stripe. They have a black spot at the base of the caudal fin. Typically, P. mirabilis have 42-51 scales on the lateral line and 15-17 scales around the caudal peduncle (Page and Burr, 1991).

Size: 5-13 cm

Native Range: Mississippi River basin from Ohio and West Virginia to Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, and from southeastern Minnesota to northern Alabama and southern Oklahoma; western Lake Erie drainage, Ohio; isolated populations in Gulf Coast drainages (Sabine Lake, Louisiana and Texas, Galveston Bay, Texas, Colorado River, Texas, and upper Pecos River, New Mexico) (Page and Burr 1991).

Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Phenacobius mirabilis are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
MI199219921Great Lakes Region
MS201520151Upper Tombigbee
NM199019902Cimarron Headwaters; Upper Pecos
OH192019812Lake Erie; Licking

Table last updated 7/20/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for states where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).

Ecology: Phenacobius mirabilis prefer temperatures from 5-25 °C, and pH levels between 6.5-7.8 (Page and Burr, 2011). They typically inhabit gravel riffles in clear to turbid creeks and rivers (Page and Burr, 1991).

Predators of Phenacobius mirabilis include yellow perch (Perca flavescens) and brown trout (Salmo trutta), but they are probably fed on by other piscivores (Quist et al., 2005). P. mirabilis will eat plankton and small invertebrates; chironomid larvae, tricopteran larvae, and chironomid pupae are prominent in their diet (Whitaker, 1977).

Means of Introduction: Unknown; possibly the result of bait bucket releases.

Status: Reported from Michigan and New Mexico. Apparently established in Buckeye Lake, Ohio (Trautman 1981).

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

Remarks: It is not certain if the records of this species from Michigan and parts of Ohio represent introductions or were simply the result of natural dispersal. Phenacobius mirabilis is native to a large part of Ohio; however, Trautman (1981) stated that the population in Buckeye Lake, Ohio, "possibly had been introduced inadvertently from the bait buckets of fishermen." The Suckermouth Minnow did not occur in Michigan, or Ohio and West Virginia for that matter, before the early 1900s; natural eastward dispersal of the species has been rapid, and has occurred as a result of increased water turbidity and siltation following conversion of the prairies to farming. These changes have apparently benefited the Suckermouth Minnow as well as a few other native fishes. In the list of Michigan fishes given Bailey and Smith (1992), P. mirabilis was denoted as one of several fishes "established through the direct or indirect intervention of humans." However, these authors provided no additional details. We interpreted the words of Bailey and Smith (1992) to mean that the species was introduced to Michigan. Nevertheless, the authors may have simply meant that P. mirabilus spread naturally into Michigan as a result of human farming practises and other human-induced changes to the aquatic environment. In their summary table on fishes of the Great Lakes basin, Bailey and Smith (1981) indicated that P. mirabilis had colonized tributaries of Lake Erie recently via canal or by natural dispersal following introduction. Underhill (1986) and Hubbs et al. (2004) made no mention of the possible introduction of this species into the northern United States. Hocutt et al. (1986), apparently based on Cavender and Ciola (1981), stated that it was one of several species that invaded the Muskingum River drainage since 1930. However, in their summary table on fishes of the Central Appalachians and Central Atlantic Coastal Plain, Hocutt et al. (1986) listed P. mirabilis as native to the Muskingum drainage.

References: (click for full references)

Bailey, R.M., and G.R. Smith. 1981. Origin and geography of the fish fauna of the Laurentian Great Lakes basin. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 38(12):1539-1561.

Bailey, R.M. and G.R. Smith. 1992. Names of Michigan Fishes. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Division, Lansing, MI.

Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Madison Press, Madison, WI.
Cavender, T.M., and C.R. Ciola. 1981. Collection records and distributional atlas of fishes of the Muskingum River basin, Ohio. Final report prepared for the Department of the Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District, Huntington, West Virginia.

Clearwater, S.J., C.W. Hickey, and M.L. Martin. 2008. Overview of potential piscicides and molluscicides for controlling aquatic pest species in New Zealand. Science & Technical Publishing, New Zealand Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand.

Etnier, D.A., and W.C. Starnes. 1993. The fishes of Tenneessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN.

GLMRIS. 2012. Appendix C: Inventory of Available Controls for Aquatic Nuisance Species of Concern, Chicago Area Waterway System. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Hocutt, C.H., R.E. Jenkins, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1986. Zoogeography of the fishes of the central Appalachians and central Atlantic Coastal Plain. 161-212 in C.H. Hocutt and E.O. Wiley, eds.

The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.
Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards, and G.P. Garrett. An annotated checklist of the freshwater fishes of Texas, with keys to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science 43(4):1-56.

Hubbs, C.L., K.F. Lagler, and G.R. Smith. 2004. Fishes of the Great Lakes regions. Revised edition. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI.

Mills, E.L., J.H. Leach, J.T. Carlton, and C.L. Secor. 1993. Exotic species in the Great Lakes: a history of biotic crises and anthropogenic introductions. Journal of Great Lakes Research 19(1):1-54.

Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Guide Series, vol. 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.
Pflieger, W. 1997. The fishes of Missouri. Missouri Department of Environmental Conservation, Jefferson City, MO.

Quist, M., W. Hubert, F. Rahel. 2005. Fish Assemblage Following Impoundment of a Great Plains River. Western North American Naturalist, 65/1: 53-63

Sublette, J.E., M.D. Hatch, and M. Sublette. 1990. The fishes of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM.

Trautman, M.B. 1981. The fishes of Ohio. Ohio State University Press, Columbus, OH.
Underhill, J.C. 1986. The fish fauna of the Laurentian Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence lowlands, Newfoundland, and Labrador. 105-136 in C.H. Hocutt and E.O. Wiley, eds. The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

Whitaker, J. 1977. Seasonal Changes in Food Habits of Some Cyprinid Fishes from the White River at Petersburg, Indiana. American Midland Naturalist, 97/2: 411-418

Other Resources:
Great Lakes Water Life

FishBase Summary

Author: Nico, L., J. Larson, T.H. Makled, and A. Fusaro

Revision Date: 1/17/2024

Peer Review Date: 7/8/2014

Citation Information:
Nico, L., J. Larson, T.H. Makled, and A. Fusaro, 2024, Phenacobius mirabilis (Girard, 1856): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=617, Revision Date: 1/17/2024, Peer Review Date: 7/8/2014, Access Date: 7/20/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [7/20/2024].

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