blackbanded darter

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Percina nigrofasciata

Characteristics: Our field observations suggest the body color of blackbanded darters is extremely variable and appears to be strongly influenced by the surrounding habitat. Individuals collected over clean, sandy substrates are lightly colored. Those taken around sticks, leaf detritus, accumulations of aquatic vegetation, or dark gravel are darker overall, with accentuated banding and barring patterns. Most individuals have 12 to 15 light to dark, elliptical bars along light green or brown to tan sides. The back has six to eight dark saddles. All fins are normally clear, but become dusky, stippled, and even lightly banded during the spawning season. Breeding males develop a greenish blue wash over the body and a brownish gold color in the head region. Blackbanded darters and dusky darters, P. sciera, can be confused; however, comparing the vertically elongated blotches in P. nigrofasciata with the laterally oval blotches on P. sciera will usually separate the two.

ADULT SIZE: 1.6 to 3.5 in (40 to 90 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: The blackbanded darter is found in Gulf and Atlantic slope drainages from Louisiana to South Carolina. It occurs throughout the Mobile basin and coastal drainages in Alabama. It is notably absent in the Tennessee River drainage and the middle reaches of the Tallapoosa River system above the Fall Line in Alabama.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The blackbanded darter is the most widespread and abundant percid species in Alabama. We have collected individuals in all types of flowing streams and rivers outside the Tennessee River drainage. Percina nigrofasciata is an early spawner, as evidenced by our collections of males running milt from February through June. Suttkus’ field notes from 1992 report several collections of individuals running milt and eggs at a water temperature of 61ºF (16ºC) in April in the upper Black Warrior River system. Mathur (1973a) indicates May and June spawnings of individuals in Halawakee Creek in east-central Alabama. Mathur (1973b) also reports late afternoon feeding on dipterans, mayflies, caddisflies, and microcrustaceans.

REMARKS: The type locality for the blackbanded darter was reported as near Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Agassiz described the blackbanded darter in 1854.

Percina is a diminutive of Perca, meaning perch.

Nigrofasciata means blackbanded.

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