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Becker, George C. / Fishes of Wisconsin

Sucker family - catostomidae,   pp. 607-691 ff. PDF (39.5 MB)

Page 690

690   Sucker Family-Catostomidae 
cm diam. The spawning act was described as follows 
(p. 1771): 
... During spawning, individual females left the still water 
and moved into the midst of the males. Two to four males 
usually escorted the female a short distance and crowded 
beside her. During egg deposition the group of three to five 
fish thrashed about for 3 or 4 sec, the males apparently 
either clasping the female with their pelvic fins or vibrating 
against her with the anal fin. The dorsal fins appeared to 
be held stiffly erect during spawning. Following the 
spawning act the female returned to still water or to the 
cover of the bank and the males returned to previously oc- 
cupied positions. 
Spawning occurred during daylight hours. After 
dark no splashing was heard, indicating the egg 
deposition had ceased. No nest was built; the pale 
yellow eggs, adhesive and demersal, were laid a few 
at a time, and adhered to the gravel and other sub- 
strate material. 
  Although some male longnose suckers held spe- 
cific positions through 1 or 2 days, no aggressive be- 
havior or area defense was noted. Males occasionally 
drifted backward downstream, however, and brushed 
their tails against the heads of other males (Geen et 
al. 1966). 
  In Brule River (Douglas County) longnose suckers, 
the average number of eggs was 26,000, and ranged 
from nearly 14,000 for the shortest fish (353 mm) to 
more than 35,000 for a 450-mm female; the eggs from 
one female averaged 2.2 mm diam. Under laboratory 
conditions (Scott and Crossman 1973), eggs hatch in 
8 days at a water temperature of 15'C (59°F), and in 
11 days at 10'C (50'F). 
  Young longnose suckers remain in the gravel of the 
bottom for 1-2 weeks before emerging. When the fry 
are between 10 and 12 mm TL, they begin to migrate 
downstream during nighttime hours (Geen et al. 
  Attempts by Bailey (1969) to locate young-of-year 
longnose suckers in the Brule River and adjacent 
streams were unsuccessful. The only age-0 longnose 
suckers taken in his study were captured in trawls 
fished about 0.8 km (0.5 mi) off Duluth, Minnesota. 
Bailey concluded that larval suckers spend little time 
in the Brule River and adjacent streams, and that they 
drift to Lake Superior soon after hatching. 
  Bailey determined the following growth at the an- 
nuli of longnose suckers from western Lake Superior: 
1-102 mm; 2-152 mm; 3-188 mm; 4-229 mm; 5-- 
274 mm; 6-340 mm; 7-368 mm; 8-396 mm; 9-424 
mm; 10--437 mm; and 11--462 mm. The period of 
annulus formation extended from mid-May to late 
September. More than 6 years were required for 
suckers to reach 454 g (1 lb), and nearly 10 years were 
needed to reach 907 g (2 lb). The youngest mature 
males were 4 years old, and all males were mature at 
age VIII. Females first matured at age V, and all were 
mature at age IX. 
  The back-calculated lengths at the annuli of nine 
longnose suckers from the Chambers Island area of 
Green Bay in Lake Michigan (UWSP 2399) were: 1- 
67 mm; 2-123 mm; 3-168 mm; 4-216 mm; 5-252 
mm; 6-278 mm; 7-309 mm; and 8-344 mm (D. 
Breitzman, pers. comm.). The yearly growth of a 330- 
mm, age-VI male from Kentuck Lake (Vilas County) 
(UWSP 3709) was: 1-74 mm; 2-128 mm; 3-179 mm; 
4-230 mm; and 5-280 mm. This fish was collected 
in May, and the annulus for its last year of life had 
not yet been placed. 
  A large longnose sucker, 642 mm (25.3 in) FL and 
weighing 3.31 kg (7.3 lb) was gillnetted from Great 
Slave Lake, Canada (Harris 1962). It was estimated to 
be 19 years old (Keleher 1961). 
  In one study, the food of young, 11-18 mm long- 
nose suckers was plankton; 20-90-mm young grazed 
on weeds and solid surfaces, taking no mud (Hayes 
1956). Weisel (1957) noted that adults frequent deep 
water during the heat of summer days, but in the 
evening and at night they approach the shores to feed. 
In western Lake Superior, the food habits of 231 
longnose suckers and 24 white suckers in the Du- 
luth-Superior and Apostle Islands areas were stud- 
ied together (Anderson and Smith 1971b). Amphi- 
pods were the most important crustaceans, followed 
by lesser quantities of cladocerans, isopods, cope- 
pods, ostracods, and Mysis. Chironomids were the 
most commonly eaten insect, along with Ephemer- 
optera, Trichoptera, Coleoptera, and Hemiptera. Also 
present were fingernail clams, snails, coregonid eggs, 
Araneae, oligochaetes, Hydracarina, plant material, 
and a substantial amount of unidentified material. 
  Stenton (1951) reported longnose suckers 356-406 
mm (14-16 in) long which had 0-98 brook trout eggs 
in their digestive tracts. It was known that these eggs 
had been exposed to predation by the superimposi- 
tion of nests on limited spawning grounds, and may 
have been dead when eaten. 
  Although it is considered to be a shallow-water fish, 
the longnose sucker has been found as deep as 183 
m (600 ft) in Lake Superior (Scott and Crossman 1973). 
Evidence indicates that it moves offshore in the fall 
(Dryer 1966). The upper lethal temperature for the 
longnose sucker has been calculated as 26.5°C (79.8°F) 
when the fish is acclimated at 14'C (57.2°F) (Black 
  In Green Bay near Oconto (Oconto County), the 

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