Suckermouth Catfish Suckermouth catfish are a large family of fish occurring naturally in tropical America, including South and Central America from Uruguay north to Panama. Introduced to Florida in the 1950’s these species are established in Southern Florida, Texas, Hawaii, and Nevada. Isolated specimens have been found in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. These armored fish prefer pond, lakes, and slow moving streams and lakes. They tend to be most abundant near shore and in shallower waters. Most species tolerate brackish waters over a wide range of temperatures over 50 degrees. Adults stay hidden much of the time, attaching to the underside of logs or large rocks.
Suckermouth catfish tend to bet brownish in color with many darker spots. All have large sucker mouths. They are covered with rows of bony plates over all their body, except the belly area. The pectoral fins stout with rough surfaces resembling course sandpaper and sport spines. The adipose fin is also spiny. Depending on species they can grow to more than 20 inches and weights of 3.0 pounds.
These catfish are sexually mature around 12 inches, with males generally larger than females. Spawning occurs from late spring to early fall. They generally construct horizontal nesting burrows in banks were approximately 2,000 eggs are laid and forms an adhesive mass. The burrow is guarded until eggs hatch in three to five days.
Algae and detritus are their primary forage. They use their suck-like mouth to scrape algae from surfaces. Other food items include small freshwater bivalves, water fleas, worms, and insect larvae.