SCIENTIFIC NAME: Carpiodes carpio

CHARACTERISTICS: The river carpsucker is the largest carpsucker species in Alabama. Older adults have a high arch on the back between the head and dorsal fin origin; on smaller individuals, this arch is absent. The dorsal fin is long, containing 23 to 30 rays. Length of anterior dorsal fin rays is an important character for separating river and highfin carpsuckers: on river carpsuckers, these rays are only about half as long as the dorsal fin base, whereas on highfin carpsuckers, they are longer than half the dorsal fin base. The rear edge of the upper jaw extends to or past the anterior edge of the eye. A distinctive nipple-shaped bulge occurs on the front edge of the lower lip. The body is silvery to very light green overall. The fins are clear to dusky.

ADULT SIZE: 16 to 24 in (406 to 610 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: River carpsuckers are fairly common in many rivers of the Mississippi basin, but their distribution and abundance are limited in the Tennessee and Ohio river drainages. Lee and Platania (1978a) include records from both the upper and lower reaches of the Tennessee River drainage but none from Alabama. Boschung (1992) reports no specimens in the University of Alabama Ichthyological Collection. Our collections at seven stations in Alabama in 1992 and 1993 (three in the Tennessee River and one each in the Elk River and in Cypress, Shoal, and Bear creeks) may represent the first published records of this species from state waters.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Reports on the fishes of Illinois (Smith, 1979) and Arkansas (Robison and Buchanan, 1988) indicate that river carpsuckers are abundant in quiet, silty or sand-bottomed pools of moderate or large streams, rivers, and reservoirs. Spawning occurs from May through July. We encountered this species in greatest abundance in Bear Creek, Colbert County. The sample collection area varied from 30 to 35 feet in width and 3 to 6 feet in depth. Streamflow ranged from slow to moderate, and substrates included clay, sand, and small gravel. Most individuals were found near trees and other submerged structures scattered along both banks.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Rafinesque described the river carpsucker in 1820.

Carpiodes means carplike.
Carpio means carp, or similar to a carp. 

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.