Lake chubsucker (Erimyzon sucetta)

GenusErimyzon (1)
SizeMaximum length: 4.1 cm (2)

The lake chubsucker is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The lake chubsucker (Erimyzon sucetta) is a robust freshwater fish of North America. It has an arched back, wide head, blunt snout, and a small, protruding, downward-pointing mouth. It is deep olive to greenish-bronze on the upperside and green-yellow to yellow-white on the underside. The fins are dusky, although the caudal fin may have a reddish tinge, and the scales are dark-edged, giving the fish a cross-hatched appearance (2) (3) (4). The lake chubsucker tends to be smaller in the southern parts of its range (5). 

The lake chubsucker closely resembles the creek chubsucker (Erimyzon oblongus), but differs in having larger eyes, fewer scales along the lateral line, more rays in the dorsal fin and a stouter body (2).

The lake chubsucker is known from the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins south to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Atlantic slope, where it occurs between southern Virginia and southern Florida (2) (6) (7). 

In Canada, the lake chubsucker has been recorded at only seven locations, in the drainages of Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Huron, and the Niagara River (7).

The lake chubsucker inhabits clear, well-vegetated, slow-moving or still waters with gravel, sand or silt substrates. It is a warm water species which prefers waters between 28 and 34 degrees Celsius. Such waters are typically found in backwaters, drainage ditches, floodplain lakes, marshes, oxbow lakes, sloughs and wetlands (2) (3) (4) (5). 

This species spawns in marshes, and juvenile fish tend to reside in the first two metres of vegetated waters over silt, sand or clay substrate (5).

Very little is known about the biology and behaviour of the lake chubsucker. It spawns in spring, from March to July, when it moves into marshes. The male clears a spot in sand, silt or gravel, and the female deposits between 3,000 and 20,000 eggs to be fertilised by the male. The eggs hatch around six to seven days later. The lake chubsucker first breeds in its third year, and usually lives for five or six years (2) (7) (8). 

The lake chubsucker has an omnivorous diet, feeding on a variety of small crustaceans, algae and vegetation (7).

Although abundant in many parts of its large range, the lake chubsucker is vulnerable to threats associated with agricultural, industrial and urban development. It is intolerant of increased turbidity and siltation, which are responsible for the loss of several populations, including in Ohio where this species’ habitat has been lost or degraded by channelisation, siltation, aquatic weed control and pollution (2) (5). 

Draining of wetlands and an increase in siltation, as a result of agricultural practices, are the main threats to the lake chubsucker in Canada, where 2 of 13 known populations have been lost. Incidental harvest in commercial and bait fisheries is also a potential threat to this species (2) (5).

In Canada, the lake chubsucker is classified as Threatened, and it is protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, which prohibits killing, capturing, possessing, selling and trading of this species. Its habitat is also protected in Canada under the Fisheries Act, while four populations in Ontario occur in Provincial or National Parks (2) (9). 

A recovery strategy was also published for the lake chubsucker in Canada in 2007, which sets guidelines on how to maintain existing populations and restore wetland habitats formerly occupied by this species (5).

Find out more about the lake chubsucker:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2013)
  2. COSEWIC (2008) COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Lake Chubsucker Erimyzon sucetta in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa. Available at:
  3. Ross, S.T. (2001) Inland Fishes of Mississippi. University Press of Mississippi, Jackson.
  4. Smith, P.W. (2002) The Fishes of Illinois. University of Illinois Press, Champaign, Illinois.
  5. Vlasman, K.L. and Staton, S.K. (2007) Recovery Strategy for the Lake Chubsucker (Erimyzon sucetta) in Canada (Proposed). Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa. Available at:
  6. U.S. Geological Survey - Erimyzon sucetta (July, 2011)
  7. NatureServe Explorer - Erimyzon sucetta (July, 2011)
  8. Texas State University: Biology Department - Lake chubsucker (July, 2011)
  9. Royal Ontario Museum - Lake chubsucker (July, 2011)