SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma lynceum

CHARACTERISTICS: Tsai and Raney (1974) considered the brighteye darter a subspecies of Etheostoma zonale; however, Etnier and Starnes (1986) present sufficient meristic, habitat, and distribution data to elevate it to species status. This short, robust species has a wide frenum on the upper lip, enlarged pectoral fins, and distinct pre, - sub-, and postorbital bars. The body is tan to light yellow; during the breeding season, the body of nuptial males takes on a greenish violet cast. Six dark dorsal saddles extend down the sides, becoming confluent with the six to nine yellowish green lateral blotches. A light blue-green wash is found on the breast region and anal fin. The pelvic, pectoral, and caudal fins are mottled with two light yellow to cream spots at the caudal fin base. The spiny dorsal fin has a black base, a sub-marginal light red-brown band and a wide green band marginally. The soft dorsal fin also has a dark base with alternating light and dark bands. The brighteye darter is distinguishable from the banded darter, E. zonale, by fewer lateral line scales; 39 to 43 in the brighteye darter compared with 46 to 56 in the banded darter. See Jordan (1885a) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 1.1 to 1.8 in (27 to 45 mm). Specimens collected from Puppy Creek in Mobile County are smaller than reported for other streams in its range.

DISTRIBUTION: The brighteye darter is distributed below the Fall Line in eastern tributaries of the Mississippi River from Louisiana north to western Tennessee and eastward along the Gulf Coast to the Escatawpa River system in the Mobile County.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Etheostoma lynceum occurs over sand and mud in sluggish pools, and over gravel and cobble substrates in swift riffles of small to medium-sized Coastal Plain streams. Alabama populations are consistently found in algae and vegetation rooted in swift-flowing runs and chutes with hard clay stone that has eroded into moderately deep and narrow channels. Our June collections of juveniles indicated spawning in late April and May, possibly into June. Bell and Timmons (1991) reported that E. lynceum feeds primarily on aquatic insect larvae. The oldest individual they examined in a Kentucky population was between three and four years old.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Hay described the brighteye darter in 1885.

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

Lynceum is referring to Lynceus, one of Jason’s Argonauts, to whom was attributed remarkable vision.

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