(See Fish Gallery Below)
About 63 species of suckers occur in North America;18 inhabit Virginia waters. All have similar body shapes, most notably large thick lips and a suctorial mouth. Because of their abundance and size, they may account for much of the fish biomass in rivers and streams. Large suckers such as the white sucker, hogsuckers, and especially buffalofishes can reach lengths of 3 feet and exceed 30 pounds. However, most are small species that hide among bottom rocks in rivers and streams. They are frequently found in pools and shoreline areas of lakes. In contrast to their undeserved reputation as "trash" fish, they prefer clean, unpolluted waters and some species are often found with trout.|
Suckers feed by "vacuuming up" invertebrates and clams on river bottoms, and do not thrive in heavily silted or anaerobic river bottoms. They make mass upstream spawning migrations in the early Spring. Eggs are adhesive, sink and stick to bottom gravel. Suckers are mostly solitary, sedentary fish, strongly oriented to a bottom existence.
A limited commercial fishery for suckers exist in some states, where they are erroneously sold for food as "mullet." The meat is firm and tasty by afflicted with inter-muscular bones (as minnows and pikes), thus they are often sold pickled or smoked. Their greatest value is a link in the food chain, eating primary consumers and serving as prey for sport fish. They are sometimes reared and sold as bait fish for large sport fish such as pike and muskie.