SCIENTIFIC NAME: Minytrema melanops
CHARACTERISTICS: Spotted suckers are easily distinguished from other castostomid species by several longitudinal rows of black or brown spots (one per scale) along the sides of the body. The dorsal fin contains 11 or 12 soft rays, is slightly concave, and may be edged in black along its free margin. The body has 43 or more lateral scales. the lateral line is poorly developed or absent. The back is light tan on small individuals to dark olive green on adults; the venter is usually cream to white.
ADULT SIZE: 12 to 18 in (300 to 460 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: A widespread species, the spotted sucker occurs from Texas through much of the Mississippi basin and east through the Gulf and Atlantic drainges to North Carolina. This species is distributed in every river system of Alabama.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Spotted suckers inhabit a variety of habitats, including rivers, reservoirs, swamps, small and large streams, and springs. They flourish in little or no current over sand and mud substrates. Greatest densities occur in swamps, overflow pools, and the backwater sloughs of many rivers, especially in the Mobile Delta. The spawning season is from late February into April, with males running milt for some time before and after spawning. We have collected males running milt on light pressure in the Black Warrior River, Tuscaloosa County, in late January and below Millers Ferry Lock and Dam, Wilcox County, in late February. Adult suckers also enter small stream tributaries of rivers and reservoirs to spawn. We observed a large number of spotted suckers about 12 to 16 inches in total length spawning in Hillabee Creek, a tributary to the Tallapoosa River, on 23 March 1988. Spawning was occuring in a long riffle containing gravel and cobble substrates and a moderate to swift current. Males were heavily tuberculate and had a pink-red lateral band; the area above was tinted with lavender or gray. We also observed dozens of heavily turberculate spotted suckers in high spawning condition in the lower reaches of Uchee Creek, Russell County, on 6 April 1993. By late May and early June, we have occasionally found spotted suckers that have spawned and are near death. Most juveniles migrate downstream when they reach total lengths of 4 to 6 inches. Diet includes algae, organic bottom material, and associated aquatic inverterbrates.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Rafinesque described the spotted sucker in 1820.
Minytrema means reduced aperture, referring to the reduced lateral line.
Melanops means black appearance.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.
ADDITIONAL COMMON NAMES: In the southeast, anglers also call spotted sucker: striped sucker, according to Cloutman and Olmstead in Fisheries (Vol. 8, No. 2).
Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.