Blackside Darter Copyright from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Percina maculata

Characteristics: A member of the subgenus Alvordius, the blackside darter has separate gill membranes and a wide frenum on the upper lip. The back is olive to yellow-olive with black vermiculations and eight or nine saddles. The venter is light yellow to white. Six to nine black blotches occur along the sides, and a distinct spot is present at the caudal fin base. Breeding males are dusky with very dark blotches. Individuals can be distinguished from their nearest relative, the P. smithvanizi, muscadine darter, by having modally 12 soft dorsal fin rays and 66 to 75 lateral line scales; the “muscadine darter” has modally 10 soft dorsal rays and 56 to 65 lateral line scales.

ADULT SIZE: 1.5 to 3.3 in (38 to 85 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Percina maculata is widely distributed in the Mississippi River basin from Minnesota to Louisiana and east to the Mobile basin and Tennessee River drainage. Most records in Alabama are from below the Fall Line; however, some scattered collections are available from above the Fall Line in the Cahaba and Black Warrior river systems. We encountered this species infrequently in the Tennessee River drainage.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Blackside darters inhabit creeks and small to medium-sized streams, generally of moderate gradient, in a variety of habitats including gravel riffles, pools, and swift chutes. Spawning occurs from March through April in Alabama. Petravicz (1938) reports that females deposit eggs in sand or gravel substrates. Karr (1963) and Thomas (1970) both report longevity of four to five years in Iowa and Illinois. Karr reports a diverse diet of midges, blackflies, mayflies, caddisflies, and microcrustaceans.

ORIGINAL DSESCRIPTION: Girard described the blackside darter in 1859.

Percina is a diminutive of Perca, meaning perch.

Maculata means spotted, referring to the lateral blotches.

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