SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma blennius

CHARACTERISTICS: The blenny darter is characterized by four conspicuous blue-black saddles with light margins across the back and by broadly connected gill membranes. The breast and cheek are usually unscaled, the opercles is unscaled or partially scaled, and the venter and nape are fully scaled. In life, the back and upper sides are olive brown, which usually extends below the lateral line as a serrated pattern. The venter is white or yellowish. Breeding males are brown-orange above the lateral line with a distinct small red dot in the center of each upper-body scale. The mouth and lip area is bright blue and the remainder of the head is green. Dorsal fins of breeding males are reddish purple. The genital papilla of breeding females is characteristically a long extended tube. Breeding males usually have longer fins than females. See Gilbert (1887) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 1.6 to 2.7 in (40 to 69 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: The blenny darter is distributed in the Highland Rim physiographic province and restricted to the middle and lower Tennessee River drainage in Tennessee and Alabama and from the Sequatchie River system to the Duck River system. In Alabama, the blenny darter is known only from Lauderdale County in the Shoal, Cypress, and Second creek systems. Our collection efforts recently confirmed populations in Second and Cypress creeks.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Etheostoma blennius lives in swift gravel riffles and shoals of clear streams. Our encounters with blenny darters in Second and Cypress creeks were in the swiftest parts of deep chutes with large gravel and small boulders, which are difficult habitats to sample. Longevity of this species is reported to be two to three years (Burr, 1979b), with sexual maturity attained by the first year. Spawning occurs in gravel riffles from March through April. Blenny darters feed on aquatic insect larvae, primarily mayflies and midges.

REMARKS: The type locality for the blenny darter is Cox Creek near Florence in the Cypress Creek system, Lauderdale County, Alabama.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Gilbert and Swain described the blenny darter in 1887.

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

Blennius means blennylike.

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