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Blue Sucker

Cycleptus elongatus

What do they look like?

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range mass
    1.8 to 4.5 kg
    3.96 to 9.91 lb
  • Average mass
    2.5 kg
    5.51 lb
  • Range length
    76 to 102 cm
    29.92 to 40.16 in

Where do they live?

What kind of habitat do they need?

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • benthic
  • rivers and streams
  • Range depth
    0.3 to 10 m
    0.98 to 32.81 ft

How do they grow?

How do they reproduce?

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    Blue suckers breed annually.
  • Breeding season
    Blue suckers breed from April to June.
  • Range number of offspring
    150,000 to 250,000
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    3 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    3 years

Blue sucker eggs develop inside the body of the females. Neither one of the parents invests time or energy into their young after females release the eggs. Adults and juveniles live in different habitats. ("Status Report on Blue Sucker (Cycleptus elongatus), a Candidate Endangered or Threatened Species", 1993; Burr and Garvey, 2006; Eitzmann, et al., 2007; "Species Profile: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources", 2012; Yeager and Semmens, 1987)

How long do they live?

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    9 to 12 years

How do they behave?

  • Range territory size
    200 (high) km^2

Home Range

How do they communicate with each other?

What do they eat?

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • aquatic crustaceans
  • Plant Foods
  • algae

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Do they cause problems?

Blue suckers have no known negative economic impacts on humans. ("Status Report on Blue Sucker (Cycleptus elongatus), a Candidate Endangered or Threatened Species", 1993)

How do they interact with us?

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • food

Are they endangered?

Blue suckers are considered Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List, and of special concern by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. More information on population distribution and densities is needed to further assess this species' conservation needs. The decline in their numbers appears to have been caused by pollution, buildup of sediment, overfishing, and building dams. Blue suckers also face competition from invasive species for resources and breeding habitat. ("Status Report on Blue Sucker (Cycleptus elongatus), a Candidate Endangered or Threatened Species", 1993; Burr and Garvey, 2006; Eitzmann, et al., 2007; "Species Profile: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources", 2012; Sutton, 2009)


Ryan Acker (author), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Robert Sorensen (editor), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Catherine Kent (editor), Special Projects, Jeremy Wright (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


on or near the bottom of a body of water

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


an animal that mainly eats decomposed plants and/or animals


particles of organic material from dead and decomposing organisms. Detritus is the result of the activity of decomposers (organisms that decompose organic material).


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


union of egg and spermatozoan


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


mainly lives in water that is not salty.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others


uses sight to communicate


Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2012. "Species Profile: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources" (On-line). Accessed February 08, 2012 at

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Status Report on Blue Sucker (Cycleptus elongatus), a Candidate Endangered or Threatened Species. North Dakota State Office: Ecological Services. 1993.

Burr, B., J. Garvey. 2006. Ecology of larval blue sucker (Cycleptus elongatus) in the Mississippi River. Ecology of Freshwater Fish, 15: 291-300.

Daugherty, D., T. Bacula, M. Sutton. 2008. Reproductive Biology of Blue Sucker in a large Midwestern river. Applied Ichthyology, 24: 297-302.

Eitzmann, J., A. Makinster, C. Paukert. 2007. Distribution and growth of blue sucker in a Great Plains river, USA. Fisheries Management and Ecology, 14: 255-262. Accessed February 08, 2012 at

Mestl, G. 2010. Seasonal resource selection by blue suckers Cycleptus elongatus. Journal of Fish Biology, 76: 836-851.

Mestl, G. 2009. Seasonal use distributions and migrations of blue sucker in the Middle Missouri River, USA. Ecology of Freshwater Fish, 18: 437-444.

Sutton, M. 2009. Blue sucker stock characteristics in the Wabash River Indiana-Illinois, USA. Fisheries Managment and Ecology, 16: 21-27.

Yeager, B., K. Semmens. 1987. Early Development of the Blue Sucker, Cycleptus elongatus. Copeia, 2: 312-316. Accessed February 08, 2012 at

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Acker, R. 2013. "Cycleptus elongatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 23, 2014 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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