Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Found in clear, cold, deep water of lakes and tributary streams; occasionally found in brackish water in the Arctic (Ref. 5723). Moves from lakes into inlet streams or from slow, deep pools into shallow, gravel-bottomed portions of streams to spawn (Ref. 27547). Feeds on benthic invertebrates (Ref. 1998). Young are preyed upon by other fishes and fish-eating birds; while adults in spawning streams are taken by mammals, osprey and eagles (Ref. 1998). Utilized as a food fish or as dog food (Ref. 27547).
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Distribution

North America: throughout most of Canada and Alaska; Atlantic Slope south to Delaware River drainage in New York, USA; Great Lakes basin; upper Monongahela River drainage in Maryland and West Virginia, USA; Missouri River drainage south to Nebraska and Colorado, USA. Also in Arctic basin of Siberia in Russia. Occurs in Columbia River System (Molly Hallock, pers. comm.).
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Northern Hemisphere.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 9 - 11; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 7; Vertebrae: 45 - 47
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Size

Maximum size: 640 mm TL
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Max. size

64.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 5723)); max. published weight: 3,300 g (Ref. 28924); max. reported age: 20 years (Ref. 12193)
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Diagnostic Description

Distinguished by the sucking mouth located on the ventral sides of the head and thick papillose lips (Ref. 27547). Gill rakers short; lateral line complete, inconspicuous; caudal tips slightly rounded (Ref. 27547). Adults may be reddish brown, dark brassy green or black above, paler on the lower sides, with the ventral parts white; young fish are usually dark gray with small black spots; breeding males are usually dark above with a brilliant reddish stripe along each side, while females are greenish gold to copper, with a less brilliant red stripe; breeding males show prominent tubercles on the rays of the anal and caudal fins and also on the head (Ref. 27547).
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Type Information

Type for Catostomus catostomus catostomus
Catalog Number: USNM 257
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Preparation: Dry Osteological Specimen
Collector(s): Suckley
Locality: Milk R. Mo., Montana, United States, North America
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Ecology

Habitat

Columbia River Demersal Habitat

This taxon is one of a number of demersal species in the Columbia River system. Demersal river fish are found at the river bottom, feeding on benthos and zooplankton. The Columbia River is the largest North American watercourse by volume that discharges to the Pacific Ocean. With headwaters at Columbia Lake, in Canadian British Columbia, the course of the river has a length of approximately 2000 kilometers and a drainage basin that includes most of the land area of Washington, Oregon and Idaho as well as parts of four other U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.

The Columbia River Basin of northwestern North America is an important habitat for Acipenser transmontanus. The Columbia River is the largest North American watercourse by volume that discharges to the Pacific Ocean. With headwaters at Columbia Lake, in Canadian British Columbia, the course of the river has a length of approximately 2000 kilometers and a drainage basin that includes most of the land area of Washington, Oregon and Idaho as well as parts of four other U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.

The hydrology and aquatic habitat of the Columbia River basin has been adversely altered by numerous large dams. There are over 250 reservoirs and around 150 hydroelectric projects in the basin, including 18 mainstem dams on the Columbia and its main tributary, the Snake River.

Water quality in the Columbia River has deteriorated over the last century, due to agricultural runoff and logging practices, as well as water diversions that tend to concentrate pollutants in the reduced water volume. For example nitrate levels in the Columbia generally tripled in the period from the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s, increasing from a typical level of one to three milligrams per liter. Considerable loading of herbicides and pesticides also has occurred over the last 70 years, chiefly due to agricultural land conversion and emphasis upon maximizing crop yields.

Heavy metal concentrations in sediment and in fish tissue had become an issue in the latter half of the twentieth century; however, considerable progress has been made beginning in the 1980s with implementation of provisions of the U.S.Clean Water Act, involving attention to smelter and paper mill discharges along the Columbia.

Some large demersal fish species occurring in the Columbia Basin are the 610 centimeter (cm) white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus), the 76 cm Pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentata); the 55 cm Brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebolosus); the 61 cm largescale sucker (Catostomus macrocheilus); the 64 cm longnose sucker (Catostomus catostomus catostomus); and the 65 cm Utah sucker (Catostomus ardens).

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Environment

demersal; freshwater; brackish; pH range: 6.5 - 7.8; dH range: 5 - 25; depth range ? - 180 m (Ref. 1998)
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Depth: 0 - 180m.
Recorded at 180 meters.

Habitat: demersal.
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Trophic Strategy

Found in clear, cold, deep water of lakes and tributary streams; occasionally found in brackish water in the Arctic (Ref. 5723). Moves from lakes into inlet streams or from slow, deep pools into shallow, gravel-bottomed portions of streams to spawn (Ref. 27547). Feeds on benthic invertebrates (Ref. 1998). Young are preyed upon by other fishes and fish-eating birds; while adults in spawning streams are taken by mammals, osprey and eagles (Ref. 1998). Feeds mainly on benthic invertebrates as well as on insects and plants (Ref. 1998).
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Spawns only during daytime (Ref. 27547). At spawning, males lie close to the bottom in the current of the spawning area while females stay along the banks and in still water (Ref. 27547). A female moves from the bank of the stream usually escorted by 2-4 males to the spawning area at the center of the stream. The males crowd beside her; egg deposition occurs as the males try to clasp the female with their pelvic fins or vibrate against her with their anal fins. This spawning act lasts for 3-5 seconds and may occur as often as 6-40 times per hour. After the eggs are deposited, the sexes separate and return to their previous stream positions (Ref.1998). Fish that moved out of a lake to spawn generally return to the lake a few days after spawning. However, river-resident fish may stay on or near the spawning area for much of the summer (Ref. 27547). Many spawn in two or even three consecutive years but others may skip one or two years between spawning (Ref. 10928).
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Conservation

Threats

Not Evaluated
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: public aquariums
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