Tahoe Sucker (Catostomus tahoensis). Photo: US Forest Service, Public Domain Image.

Tahoe sucker (Catostomus tahoensis). Photo: US Forest Service, Public Domain Image.

Tahoe Sucker
Catostomus tahoensis
  • Olive-colored backs, yellow bellies.
  • In breeding males, a bright red stripe along sides.
  • Large heads, medium-sized “lips,” and mouths pointed downward.

Record Observations
Species Description:

In the lakes this species attains a large size, one specimen measuring a little over 2 feet.  The Indians call them ‘auwá-go,’ or ‘a-wuh’, and occasionally catch them along with Chasmistes [Cui-ui], but reject them as being undesirable for food.  The flesh is sweet and palatable.” -John Otterbein Snyder, 1917

Tahoe suckers use both lake and river habitat, and are common and abundant throughout the Lahontan system (the watershed of former Lake Lahontan, which includes the Truckee, Carson, Walker, Humboldt, and Susan Rivers, as well as Pyramid, Tahoe, Eagle and Walker Lakes, and tributary streams)(Moyle 2002).  Look for brightly-colored breeding Tahoe suckers in the spring, from March or April until July, depositing eggs in shallow (less than 12 inches) water in rivers, or deep (16-60 feet) water in lakes.

In large lakes such as Tahoe and Pyramid, Tahoe suckers tend to use warm, shallow water habitat close to shore during the summer and move offshore during the winter (Sigler & Sigler 1987). They are bottom-feeders, and feed mostly at night on algae, plants, and invertebrates.  Tahoe suckers are an important food source for the birds of Pyramid Lake’s Anaho Island, and they are edible by humans as well, although not a common target species for fishermen (Sigler & Sigler, 1987).  Tahoe suckers sometimes hybridize with Mountain suckers, a closely related species native to the Lahontan, Bonneville, and Snake River systems.

Photos & Information needed!

Do you have an original photograph of a Tahoe sucker from Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River or Pyramid Lake?  If so, please contribute photos and observations here!



Moyle, P. B. (2002). Inland fishes of California. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Rivers, I. L. (1994). Fishes and fisheries of Nevada. Reno: University of Nevada Press.

Sigler, W. F., & Sigler, J. W. (1987). Fishes of the Great Basin: A natural history. Reno: University of Nevada Press.

Snyder, John O. 1917. The Fishes of the Lahontan System of Nevada and Northeastern California. Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries, Volume XXXV, 1915-16. Document No. 843, September 28, 1917.

Tahoe Sucker (Catostomus tahoensis) – FactSheet. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=355


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