Blue sucker
Cycleptus elongatus (Lesueur, 1817)

member of the Sucker Family (Catostomidae)

Mississippi River, Ramsey County, Minnesota 19 June 1995

Chippewa River, Buffalo County, Wisconsin 11 September 1995

young of the year

photos by Konrad Schmidt














What's In a Name?
Blue sucker: named for its deep blue color

Cycleptus (sigh-klep´-tuss) refers to its small, round mouth; coined by the namer
(eelong-got´-tuss) means "elongate" in Latin; based on its long body.



Where Do They Live?
The blue sucker is one of Minnesota's rare fishes, known only to live in its large, southern rivers, including the lower portions of the Minnesota, St. Croix, and Mississippi rivers. They are commonly located in deeper fast moving channels of these rivers where the bottoms have lots of gravel or cobble. They are found living with the following fish: shorthead redhorse, common carp, shovel nose sturgeon, sauger and walleye.

"Cool Fact": The blue sucker is the most rare sucker in the state, but recently has been found in increasing numbers.



How Big Do They Get?
How Long Do They Live?
The blue sucker has not been carefully studied. We believe it commonly lives to 7 or 8 years old, but it can live for more than 10 years. Lengths of 500-600 mm (20-24 in) or more are common. These fish typically weigh 2-3 kg (4-6 lbs). The Minnesota state record for this fish is 6. 85 kg (14 lbs 3 oz) and was caught from the Mississippi River in Wabasha County.

    What Do They Eat?
Blue suckers keep roughly the same diet during the juvenile and adult period of their life cycles. Adults just include larger food items. They eat mostly aquatic insect larvae but also include crustaceans, plant materials and algae.

What Eats Them?
Since these fish are rare there is little known about what predators they may have. Young suckers are probably eaten by walleye and smallmouth bass, as well as fish-eating birds when they swim into slower shallow waters.


How Do They Reproduce?
Once again since these fish are so rare, there is little known about them. The spawning season probably runs from early May to mid June in Minnesota when the water temperatures exceed 10 °C (50° F). Adults probably migrate upstream into the areas or moderately swift current and good gravel bottoms. Recently hatched larvae probably drift downstream to areas of slower water over sand or finer gravel. No sucker species is known to provide any kind of parental care after spawning.


Conservation and Management
Currently, blue suckers are considered rare in Minnesota and are listed as a species of Special Concern. Like many species of large rivers, their life cycle probably has been impacted by the construction of locks and dams and the interference with free flow of the river.




Permission is granted for the non-commercial educational or scientific use of the text and images on this Web document. Please credit the author or authors listed below.

Photographs by Konrad P. Schmidt
Text by Nicole Paulson & Jay T. Hatch in cooperation with
the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' MinnAqua Aquatic Program

This page developed with funds from the
MinnAqua Program (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fisheries)
and the
Sport Fish Restoration Program (Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior)

Maintained by Jay T. Hatch
General College and James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul

Last updated 23 October 2002