Northern hogsucker (Hypentelium nigricans)

The hogsucker has a long, slender body with a head broader than the rest of the body. The head is slightly concave between the eyes. Four dark bars mottle its brown body, allowing it to blend easily with stony stream bottoms. Average length of this fish is 6-12 inches.

This fish is widely distributed in western New York, including the Finger Lakes region. In the Mohawk-Hudson system, its distribution is limited to the middle Hudson. It occurs in tributaries of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. It is not found north of latitude 44.

The hogsucker resides in the riffles of clear, shallow streams where it feeds by sucking periphyton and detritus from the stream substrate. These fish 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. Other fish may benefit by feeding on insects disrupted from the substrate by a foraging hogsucker.


Distribution of hogsuckers in NY state. Dark dots represent where actual samples of hogsuckers were taken. White dots represent historic distributions.

A 197k image of the hogsucker is also available for download.

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