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Photo courtesy of Konrad Schmidt

Blue sucker - Common name
Cycleptus elongatus - Scientific name
Family - Catostomidae (suckers)
Status : S3, G3/G4

IDENTIFICATION: The blue sucker can reach 36 inches (914 mm) in length. It has a long and somewhat compressed body, small head, and blunt snout. It has a bottom feeding mouth. Blue suckers have olive-blue or gray backs, blue-white bellies, and dark blue-gray fins. Large, breeding males are blue-black with small white tubercles on the head, body, and fins. Large females are light blue-tan in colour and have fewer tubercles than males.

SIMILAR SPECIES FOUND IN SOUTH DAKOTA: There are no species similar to the blue sucker in South Dakota.

HABITS AND HABITAT: The blue sucker is found in strong currents of main channels of medium to large rivers with bedrock, sand, or gravel substrates. It feeds primarily on small organisms and debris found on river bottoms. It spawns in early summer in shallow water areas.

DISTRIBUTION: Distribution Map The blue sucker ranges from Pennsylvania west to central Montana, and as far south as Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. In eastern South Dakota the blue sucker occurs in the lower reaches of the James, Vermillion and Big Sioux Rivers. The falls at Sioux Falls likely acts as a barrier to further upstream migration of the species in the Big Sioux River. The blue sucker has been documented in Hutchinson and Yankton Counties in the James River Basin; Clay County in the Vermillion River Basin; and in Lincoln and Union Counties in the Big Sioux River Basin.

CAUSES OF CONCERN AND CONSERVATION MEASURES: The blue sucker is affected by dams that interfere with the natural free flow of the rivers they inhabit, and by any activities causing heavy pollution or sedimentation of streams and rivers it inhabits.

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