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Harelip

HARELIP SUCKER

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lagochila lacera

CHARACTERISTICS:  Two mouth characteristics separate the harelip sucker from all other catostomids: a nonprotractile upper lip and a lower lip that is divided into two distinct lobes. The head is short, accounting for only 20 to 22 percent of the standard length. The dorsal fin has 11 or 12 soft rays, and its free margin is slightly concave. The lateral line is complete and contains 42 to 46 scales. Body colors of freshly caught specimens are described by Jordan and Brayton (1877) and Jordan (1882). The back is olive to brownish, and the venter and sides are silver or white. The lower fins are slightly orange, while the remaining fins are cream to dusky. The dorsal fin is dusky and edged in black. Although of different genera, this species and the blacktail redhorse in the Mobile basin have similar body colors.

ADULT SIZE: Most museum specimens are small, averaging less than 7 inches (178 mm). Trautman (1981) relates that J. H. Klippart (1878) sent D. S. Jordan “a fine large specimen” collected in 1878 “at Columbus, just below the State dam” in the Scioto River. Jordan apparently refers to the specimen in reporting the maximum length of the species as “1 to 1.5 feet” in his 1882 report on Ohio fishes. Jordan later donated the specimen to the Cincinnati Society of Natural History (Trautman, 1981), where it was lost.

DISTRIBUTION: The harelip sucker was first collected in 1859 and described in 1877. The last specimen was collected in 1893. By 1970, the species was believed to be extinct (Jenkins, 1970). The only known collection in Alabama came from Cypress Creek, Lauderdale County, in 1889. On the slight chance of collecting this species, we repeatedly sampled the lower flowing reaches of Cypress Creek in 1992 and 1993. Although we examined a total of 30 species, including six suckers, our effort were unsuccessful. Jordan (1882) reports receiving a specimen from the Elk River, probably from Tennessee.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Harelip sucker collections came from clear, gravel-or rock-bottomed streams with moderate to swift currents (Jenkins and Burkhead, 1993). Very little information exists on its precise habitat and life history, though Klippart (1878) relates that these fishes were called May suckers because they spawned in May. Ichthyologists speculate that harelip suckers may have become extinct when their habitats were modified by siltation.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Jordan and Brayton described the harelip sucker in 1877.

ETYMOLOGY:
Lagochila means harelip.
Lacera means torn.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.


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