SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma edwini

CHARACTERISTICS: The brown darter is a small species characterized by a lateral line arched well below the spiny dorsal fin. Individuals have embedded scales on their cheeks and opercles, a broad frenum, and three distinct spots at the base of the tail. The body color is tan or light yellow, with seven to 10 dark brown square blotches. Males usually have a number of bright red spots scattered along their sides. Bordering the spots are stipples of dark brown or black that are in various stages of development. The cheeks and opercles have large black spots and a black bar is present below the eye. The spiny dorsal fin of the male has two to four rows of bright red spots with a black spot at the posterior end.

ADULT SIZE: 1.2 to 1.7 in (30 to 43 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Etheostoma edwini occurs in Gulf coastal drainages from the Perdido River system east to the St. Johns River system in northeast Florida. In Alabama the brown darter occurs in all coastal drainages including the Perdido River, lower Conecuh River, Blackwater and Yellow rivers, Choctawhatchee River, and the Chattahoochee River upstream to the Fall Line.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The preferred habitat of the brown darter is aquatic vegetation or exposed root masses in small to moderate-sized, shallow, flowing streams. Population densities are generally greater where silt or coarse detritus have accumulated among the vegetation. Williams (1976) reports a protracted spawning season, lasting from winter to late summer. A single egg is usually deposited per spawning act on vegetation and is subsequently fertilized by the male. Food items of this species include copepods, cladocerans, mayflies, midges, water mites, and stoneflies.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Hubbs and Cannon described the brown darter in 1935.

Etheostoma strain mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.

Edwini in honor of Edwin P. Creaser, who provided the authors with specimens for description.

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