SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma corona

CHARACTERISTICS: Breeding males of the crown darter have a dark soft dorsal fin with a bright egg yellow margin. The fin membranes extend almost to the tips of the rays. Each ray has three branches; the second and third rays, close together and of equal length, are distinctly separate from the first ray, giving the entire fin a frilled appearance. Six or seven rows of rectangular, clear to yellow bars are present on the dark fin rays in the soft dorsal fin. The caudal fin usually has 11 or 12 clear yellow and black alternating bands. The spiny dorsal fin is dusky black, with a small yellow or white knob on the tip of each spine. Body color in breeding males is dusky to black. Crown darters are similar in appearance to the fringed, blackfin, and lollipop darters, Etheostoma crossopterum, E. nigripinne, and E. neopterum, respectively. However, distributions of these three species generally do not overlap with the crown darter’s limited range. See Page et al. (1992) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 1.6 to 3 in (40 to 75 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Etheostoma corona is known only from the Cypress Creek system in Tennessee and Alabama. Although its range is quite small, it is usually abundant within its preferred habitat.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Crown darters occur in small headwater streams to medium-sized rivers, but are generally abundant in small streams. Although individuals have been taken in a variety of habitats, they are more common in pools and areas with reduced flow. Breeding individuals seek sheltered spawning sites, where the females deposit eggs on the underside of objects such as rocks and logs. Adults and larvae have been collected in spring seeps flowing through lowlands adjacent to headwater streams, and nuptial individuals have been found from late March to early June. Little else is know about the biology of this recently described species.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Page and Ceas described the crown darter in 1992.

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

Coronarefers to the crown-like appearance of the soft dorsal fin on breeding males.

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