Black Darter copyright picture from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma duryi

CHARACTERISTICS: The black darter, a member of the subgenus Ulocentra, is easily recognized by its mid-lateral black blotches, which are fused, forming an irregular midlateral stripe. Similar to the snubnose darter, Etheostoma simoterum, the black darter is distinguishable by the absence of a frenum on the upper lip and by having a more pronounced snout; the snubnose darter has a frenum and a very blunt snout. The back of the black darter is usually brown or yellow, with eight dark saddles. The fourth saddle extends ventrally and often joins an expanded lateral blotch, a marking very characteristic of the species. Venter and breast are usually light yellow to orange while the snout, lower head, outer margin of the anal fin, and upper and lower margins of the caudal fin are turquoise. Soft dorsal fin membranes are red.The spiny dorsal fin has a red marginal band and a white submarginal band, followed by a poorly defined row composed of red, brown, and white blotches, as well as stippling. The base of the spiny dorsal fin is black.

ADULT SIZE: 1.6 to 2.4 in (40 to 60 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Etheostoma duryi is restricted to the Tennessee River drainage and occurs most commonly in the southern bend of the river in Alabama and Tennessee. It is widely distributed in the Tennessee River Valley in Alabama and is often abundant in collections.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Black darters inhabit pools and riffles of small to medium-sized, clear streams flowing over gravel, rubble, or slabrock substrates. Spawning occurs from late March to early May, peaking during April. Females usually lay single eggs in small depressions on the sides of rocks, logs, and other suitable hard surfaces (Page et al., 1982); the eggs are immediately fertilized by a nearby male. Etnier and Starnes (1993) report a longevity of three years. Aquatic larvae of midges, mayflies, caddisflies, and blackflies comprise the diet.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Henshall described the black darter in 1889.

Etheostoma means strain mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.

Duryi in honor of Charles Dury, original collector of this species.


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