SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma flabellare
CHARACTERISTICS: The fantail darter is characterized by a deep caudal peduncle, a protruding lower jaw, and broadly connected gill covers. Body color is brown to olive, with black stripes, 10 to 15 dark brown vertical bars, or both along the sides. The lateral bars are diffusely connected with about eight dark brown or black saddle blotches. The caudal fin and soft dorsal fin have black bands. The spiny dorsal fin is short, about half the height of the soft dorsal fin, and is typically black at the base, clear in the middle, and dusky at the margin with white, yellow, or gold knobs at the tip of each spine. Etheostoma flabellare is easily confused with the stripetail darter, E. kennicotti, which has a shorter spiny dorsal fin with smaller knobs on the tips, a prominent submarginal dark band below the knobs, and a more mottled pattern along its sides. Three subspecies of E. flabellare are presently recognized (McGeehan, 1995): E. f. flabellare, E. f. brevispina, and E. f. humerale.
ADULT SIZE: 1.3 to 3 in (33 to 75 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: Etheostoma flabellare is widely distributed throughout the upper Mississippi River basin and Great Lakes region with its southern extent reaching into Alabama. Etheostoma f. flabellare in Alabama is restricted to the Tennessee River drainage, commonly occurring in streams drainage Lauderdale County, in upland tributaries of the Paint Rock River in Jackson County, and theElk River in Limestone County.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Adult fantail darters occur in shallow riffles of moderate to swift current over gravel and cobble substrate. Juveniles are often found in pools and slackwater areas downstream of riffles. Spawning occurs in April and May. Males establish territories in cavities beneath large rubble or small boulders. Females enter the nest, invert, and attach eggs in a single layer to the underside of a stone, after which eggs are fertilized by the male (Lake, 1936; Winn, 1958a, b). Bart and Page (1991) propose that the fleshy fin knobs on males function as egg mimics and stimulate female spawning activity. Individuals live to be four years old (Karr, 1964). The diet consists of midge larvae, mayflies, caddisflies, copepods, amphipods, and isopods.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Rafinesque described the fantail darter in 1819.
Etheostoma means strain mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.
Flabellare means fanlike, referring to the caudal fin.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.