Northern Hogsucker, Hypentelium nigricans

Image Credit: Dept. of Natural Resources, Cornell University

The Northern Hogsucker (Hypentelium nigricans) is a species of freshwater fish that inhabits the rivers of the Mississippi basin. They occur from Oklahoma and Alabama northward to Minnesota. This fish is also widely distributed in western New York, including the Finger Lakes region. It occurs in tributaries of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario as well. There are no fish found north of latitude 44°. It prefers clear, fast, shallow streams, where it can forage through pebbles for bottom life, especially aquatic insects.

This fish grows up to 24 inches in length, but 6 to 12 inches is more likely. It has a long, slender body with a head that is broader than the rest of the body. The head is slightly concave between the eyes. Four dark bars mottle its brown body, which allows it to easily blend with its stony stream habitat.

The Hogsucker feeds by sucking periphyton (the community of tiny organisms, as protozoans, hydras, insect larvae, and snails, that lives on the surfaces of rooted aquatic plants) and debris from the stream substrate. They use their long snout and bony head to push aside rocks on the stream bottom. Then, using paired fins to maintain position in the current, the Hogsucker feeds on insects and other organisms beneath the rocks.

Image Credit: Dept. of Natural Resources, Cornell University

Northern Hogsucker Hypentelium nigricans

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