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New Jersey Endangered and Threatened Species Field Guide
Northern hog sucker
Species Group: Fish
State: Special Concern
This species has a large, rectangular head – its body is wide in the front and tapers abruptly behind its single dorsal fin. It has a long, blunt snout with large fleshy lips. It grows up to two feet long.
Color is dark olive or bronze to red-brown above; light along the side; and pale yellow or white below. It has 3-6 dusky or brown saddles on its upper side. Fins are olive to light orange, often with black edges on dorsal and caudal fins.
DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT
Northern hog suckers live within the eastern half of the U.S. from Minnesota in the northwest to New York in the northeast and as far south a Georgia and Mississippi. Although they still occur within Lake Erie, it is believed that they are extirpated from Lake Michigan, the only other Great Lake in which they were once found.
Northwestern New Jersey is along the eastern edge of this species’ range. There are scattered records of this species within New Jersey’s Delaware River drainage, only within the northern third of the state.
They prefer rocky riffles and pools of clear creeks and small rivers. They are occasionally found in large rivers and impoundments.
Northern hog suckers are invertivores, consuming small aquatic invertebrates sucked up from the bottom.
Northern hog suckers spawn in spring. Spawning occurs in riffles or in shallow pools over clean gravel. Eggs hatch in about ten days. Males reach sexual maturity at 2-3 years old and females at 3-4 years old.
CURRENT STATUS, THREATS, AND CONSERVATION
Although abundant and widespread throughout much of its range, this species is rare in New Jersey and found at only a few locations within the state. Although much of the area where it currently occurs is within protected National Park Service land, it could be vulnerable to any future changes in water or habitat conditions.
In 2016, the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Advisory Committee recommended a Special Concern status for this species, but no formal rule proposal has been filed to date.
Text written by Michael J. Davenport in 2016.
- Arndt, Rudolf G. 2004. “Annotated Checklist and Distribution of New Jersey Freshwater Fishes, With Comments on Abundance.” The Bulletin: New Jersey Academy of Scince. Vol. 49, No. 1.
- Page, Lawrence M. and B.M. Burr. 2011. Peterson Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico.
Species: H. nigricans
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