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Stout body with a moderately compressed and slightly arched back. It has a nipple-like projection at the middle of its lower lip. The back is brown-olive with silvery sides fading to a whitish belly. The fins are opaque, except in older fish. Breeding males develop tiny tubercules on the body. River Carpsucker is the largest of the carpsuckers with adults commonly 12- to 18-inches long and weigh 1- to 3-pounds. Individual fish weighing over 10-pounds have been reported.
Widely distributed and abundant in Iowa; common in nearly all of the large interior rivers, as well as in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and most river impoundments.
Algae, protozoans, small crustaceans, aquatic insects, aquatic worms and mollusks
The River Carpsucker is highly adaptable to variable habitats, but prefers large, silty rivers with slower-moving current over sand or silt bottoms. It also lives in the smaller creeks and thrives in river impoundments.
Adults become sexually mature at ages 2 and 3, depending upon sex. This fish spawns late in the spring at water temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees. Spawning occurs in large fish groups in flowing water over gravel and sandy bottoms. No defined spawning peak occurs as females do not ripen at the same time. Some females might spawn more than once per year. The adhesive eggs are broadcast at random. An average female produces over 100,000 eggs. Incubation takes 8 to 15 days. Average body length at each year of life is: 1- 6.8-inches, 2- 11.0-inches, 3- 14.4-inches, 4- 17.3-inches, 5- 17.4-inches and 6- 18.0-inches. Fish more than six years old are seldom seen, although River Carpsuckers up to 10 years of age have been reported.
Recent stream sampling information is available from Iowa DNR's biological monitoring and assessment program.