Catostomus commersonii
Catostomus commersonii
(White Sucker)
Native Transplant
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Catostomus commersonii (Lacepède, 1803)

Common name: White Sucker

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Becker (1983); Page and Burr (1991); Etnier and Starnes (1993); Jenkins and Burkhead (1994).  Original spelling ends in ii (Nelson et al. 2004).

Size: 64 cm.

Native Range: Atlantic, Arctic, Great Lakes, and Mississippi River basins from continental Newfoundland (i.e. Labrador) to Mackenzie River, Northwest Territories; south to the Tennessee River drainage, northern Alabama, and Arkansas River drainage, New Mexico; south on Atlantic Slope to Santee River drainage, South Carolina; upper Rio Grande drainage, New Mexico; Skeena and Fraser River drainages (Pacific Slope), British Columbia (Page and Burr 1991).
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Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: The White Sucker was introduced into the Colorado drainage in Colorado in the 1860s and 1870s (Vanicek et al. 1970; Tyus et al 1982; Woodling 1985), Miguel drainage in 1941 (Miller 1952), it is found in Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and Rocky Mountain National Park (Tilmant 1999). It also now occurs in the Chattahoochee River, Georgia (Couch et al. 1995), Rio Grande (Sublette et al. 1990; Platania 1991), San Juan, Gila, and Rio Chama of New Mexico (Tyus et al 1982; Sublette et al. 1990), Utah, in the Green and Colorado rivers (Vanicek et al. 1970; Tyus et al 1982) and collected in Arches, Canyonlands, and Dinosaur National Parks (Tilmant 1999), and in the Green River drainage, Wyoming (Baxter and Simon 1970; Tyus et al 1982; Page and Burr 1991; Hubert 1994). It was probably introduced in North Carolina into the Neuse and Cape Fear drainages (Menhinick 1991).

Means of Introduction: Bait bucket release and trout stock contamination in Colorado. Probably as bait bucket release in Utah, and Wyoming. Unknown means in Georgia, North Carolina, and New Mexico. Woodling (1985) reported the first introductions in the Colorado River took place in the 1860s and 1870s. Holden and Stalnaker (1975) reported later introductions: one in 1926, and another in 1938. They also assumed a population in the Yampa River was from a separate introduction.

Status: Established in all locations.

Impact of Introduction: In Colorado, the White Sucker is replacing native suckers in the Rio Grande and Colorado river drainages (Walker 1993).  Hybridization between native flannelmouth and bluehead sucker, and non-native White Sucker Catostomus commersoni, longnose sucker Catostomus catostomus, and Utah sucker Catostomus ardens is occurring. Some combinations are fertile and will lead to introgression (Wyoming Game and Fish Department 2010).

Remarks: Tyus et al. (1982) gave a distribution map of the this species in the upper Colorado basin.

References: (click for full references)

Baxter, G. T., and J. R. Simon. 1970. Wyoming fishes. Wyoming Game and Fish Department Bulletin 4, Cheyenne, WY. 168 pp.

Becker, G. C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI.

Couch, C. A., J. C. DeVivo, and B J. Freeman. 1995. What fish live in the streams of metropolitan Atlanta? Fact Sheet FS-091-95, National Water-Quality Assessment Program, U.S. Geological Survey, Atlanta, GA.

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

Holden, P. B., and C. B. Stalnaker. 1975. Distribution and abundance of mainstream fishes of the middle and upper Colorado River basins, 1967-1973. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 104(2):217-231.

Hubert, W. 1994. Exotic fish. Pages 158-174 in T. L. Parrish, and S. H. Anderson, editors. Exotic species manual. Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Laramie, WY.

Jenkins, R. E., and N. M. Burkhead. 1994. Freshwater fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Menhinick, E. F. 1991. The freshwater fishes of North Carolina. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. 227 pp.

Nelson, J. S., E. J. Crossman, H. Espinosa-Perez, L. T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea and J. D. Williams. 2004. Common and Scientific Names of Fishes from the United States, Canada and Mexico, Sixth Edition. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 29. Bethesda, MD.

Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Field Guide Series, volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Platania, S. P. 1991. Fishes of the Rio Chama and upper Rio Grande, New Mexico, with preliminary comments on their longitudinal distribution. Southwestern Naturalist 36(2):186-193.

Schmidt, B. - Chief Fisheries Mangement, Division of Wildlife Resources, Salt Lake City, UT. Response to NBS-G non-indigenous questionaire. 1992.

Sublette, J. E., M. D. Hatch, and M. Sublette. 1990. The fishes of New Mexico. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM. 393 pp.

Tilmant, J. T. 1999. Management of nonindigenous aquatic fish in the U.S. National Park System. National Park Service. 50 pp.

Tyus, H. M., B. D. Burdick, R. A. Valdez, C. M. Haynes, T. A. Lytle, and C. R. Berry. 1982. Fishes of the upper Colorado River basin: distribution, abundance, and status. Pages 12--70 in W. H. Miller, H. M. Tyus, and C. A. Carlson, editors. Fishes of the upper Colorado River system: present and future, Western Division, American Fisheries Society.

Vanicek, C. D., R. H. Kramer, and D. R. Franklin. 1970. Distribution of Green River fishes in Utah and Colorado following closure of Flaming Gorge Dam. The Southwestern Naturalist 14(3):297--315.

Walker, P. 1993. A list of the endemic and introduced fishes of Colorado -- March, 1993. Colorado Division of Wildlife, Aquatic Resources Unit. Unpublished manuscript. 16 pp.

Woodling, J. 1985. Colorado's little fish: a guide to the minnows and other lesser known fishes in the state of Colorado. Colorado Division of Wildlife, Denver, CO. 77 pp.

Other Resources:
FishBase Fact Sheet

Author: Fuller, P.

Revision Date: 3/7/2011

Citation Information:
Fuller, P., 2017, Catostomus commersonii (Lacepède, 1803): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 3/7/2011, Access Date: 8/16/2017

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.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2017]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [8/16/2017].

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