Fish and Aquatic Conservation

illustration of a Shortnose sucker

Shortnose Sucker

Chasmistes brevirostris, (Cope, 1879)

Cool Facts

Shortnose suckers have been known to live for 33 years. This species is known as “Quapdo” by the local Native American Nation, the Klamath Tribes. Shortnose suckers feed by suction. They siphon and filter food from lake bottoms.

SIZE: Common length for the shortnose sucker is 40 cm (15.7 in) with the maximum reported length being 64 cm (25.2 in).

RANGE: The range of the shortnose sucker is located within southern Oregon and northern California in the United States, including the upper Klamath River and Lost River basins.

HABITAT: The preferable habitat for the shortnose sucker is a turbid, shallow, somewhat alkaline, well-oxygenated lake that is cool, but not cold in the summer season.

DIET: Shortnose suckers feed on organic debris, microscopic animals, algae and aquatic insects.

Natural History

Shortnose suckers reach sexual maturity in around six or seven years and then begin their migration for reproduction. Adult suckers migrate from the quiet waters of lakes into fast moving streams from March through May to spawn.

They may also reproduce in springs from February to late April when water temperatures are a consistent 15 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit). After being fertilized, the shortnose sucker eggs settle down to the stream bottom, which is normally composed of gravel or cobble in a riffle area.

It takes approximately two weeks for shortnose sucker eggs to develop. Juvenile suckers normally hatch between April and June. The juvenile shortnose suckers generally stay along the shore line of the water body, even if the shoreline is not vegetated.


The shortnose sucker was listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1988. They are also listed as Endangered under California state law. Reduction of the areas in which shortnose suckers reproduce is a primary concern.

Current conservation efforts to benefit shortnose suckers include fencing portions of streams to prevent soil erosion caused by cattle, replacing native vegetation along stream banks, improving forestry and agricultural practices in surrounding shortnose sucker habitat and insuring adequate water levels in reservoirs.