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Its body is deep and compressed laterally, with the back highly arched and long, sickle-shaped dorsal fin with 25 to 27 soft rays. It is brown-olive, with silvery sides, whitish belly and nearly colorless fins. Tubercules are present over most of the head, body and fins of males during the breeding seasons. It's the smallest species of carpsucker, seldom exceeding 12-inches long and 1-pound.
Predominately found in large interior rivers and impoundments in the Mississippi River drainage basin. Widely distributed throughout the Eastern Broadleaf Forest Aquatic Subregion, but is only sporadically found in the eastern part of the Central Plains Aquatic Subregion. Occasionally taken in the Mississippi River, the Highfin Carpsucker is almost completely absent from the Missouri River.
aquatic insect larvae, copepods and algae
The largest populations of Highfin Carpsuckers are found in moderately deep waters of relatively clear, medium to large rivers with firm substrates of gravel. It also lives in lowland ponds, oxbows and sloughs, but in smaller populations. In northern parts of its range, the Highfin Carpsucker prefers large, clean rivers with moderate to swift current in quiet waters next to channels. Of the carpsuckers, the highfin is least tolerant of turbidity, siltation and impoundment.
Highfin are schooling fish. Breeding groups migrate in schools to spawn in the shallows and overflow ponds of streams. It has a curious habit of skimming along the water surface with the dorsal fin and back exposed. Spawning occurs in late spring at water temperatures of 55 to 77 degrees. The eggs are broadcast at random over clean gravel substrate. Sexual maturity is achieved most often during the third year of life. Females produce 42,000 to 63,000 eggs. They reach 12.3-inches long after six years of life.
Recent stream sampling information is available from Iowa DNR's biological monitoring and assessment program.