ALABAMA HOG SUCKER
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Hypentelium etowanum
CHARACTERISTICS: The Alabama hog sucker has a large, rectangular head that is slightly concave between the eyes. The dorsal fin usually has 10 soft rays. A large mouth with many prominent papillae is located just beneath the snout. The back is light to dark charcoal, the venter cream, and the sides mottled charcoal and cream. Four or five dark, oblique bands extend forward along the side and are joined across the dorsal midline. The anterior band, which is broadest, is just behind the head. Two narrower bands occur beneath the dorsal fin and two behind it. All fins are light orange-red to cream mottled with charcoal brown. The snout and lips are also tinted with orange. See Jordan (1877a) for original description.
ADULT SIZE: 9.1 to 12 in (230 to 300 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: This species has an unusual distribution. It is extremely widespread and frequently abundant above the Fall Line and in the Fall Line Hills district of the East Gulf Coastal Plain below the Fall Line. But there are very few collections in streams draining the Black Belt and Southern Pine Hills districts of southwestern Alabama, a circumstance that is probably the result of physical and water-quality conditions in the Black Belt and a lack of preferred substrates throughout. The influence of habitat on species distribution is indicated by the presence of hog suckers at Bilbo Creek, the southernmost gravel-bottomed tributary to the western side of the lower Tombigbee River in Washington County (Mettee et al., 1987). Alabama hog suckers are also present in the Chattahoochee River drainage, primarily above the Fall Line.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Hog suckers are bottom-dwelling fishes that prefer moderate or fast currents over gravel, cobble, or sand substrates. Judging from our numerous collections of gravid adults, spawning occurs in April and early May in Alabama. R. D. Suttkus reports collections of males running milt from 58ºF (14ºC) water at Pace Creek, Clarke County, on 9 April 1988. Juvenile hog suckers are often common in slack or slow currents over sand and silt substrates. Etnier and Starnes (1993) report a life span of at least five years. Very little information is available on the life history of this species in Alabama.
REMARKS: The type locality given by Jordan (1877a) is the Etowah and Oostanaula rivers near Rome, Georgia.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Jordan described the Alabama hog sucker in 1877.
Hypentelium means below “five-lobes,” possibly referring to the form of the lower lip.
Etowanum means Etowah, referring to the Etowah River, the type locality.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.