SCIENTIFIC NAME: Percina antesella
Characteristics: The amber darter, a member of the subgenus Imostoma, distinguished by the placement of its first dorsal saddle, which is located well anterior to the spiny dorsal fin. The body is slender, the snout is moderately long and pointed, and the eyes are located high on top of the head. The throat area of breeding males in this species is blue. Four dark brown saddles cross the yellow-brown back and extend down to the lateral line. The venter generally is yellow or white, and a distinct bar is present below the eye. The fins are generally clear, with faint dusky markings in the dorsal, caudal, and pectoral fins. The elongate anal fin of breeding males is characteristics of this subgenus.
ADULT SIZE: 1.8 to 3 in (45 to 75 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: Percina antesella is endemic to the Conasauga and Etowah river systems in the upper Coosa River system. Individuals were observed in the Etowah River and Sharp Mountain Creek in 1990, and this species was recently rediscovered in Shoal Creek, Cherokee County, Georgia. The Conasauga population is limited to about 33 miles of the river in north Georgia and southeast Tennessee.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The amber darter inhabits cool, clear, small rivers with moderate to swift currents over gravel and cobble substrates. Most individual live in deep riffles with moderate current. Freeman (1983) reports as preferred habit the midsection or upstream end of low-gradient riffles, either over sand and gravel or among clumps of river weed in midsummer. Spawning occurs early, as with all Imostoma, from late fall to early spring. Eggs are deposited in sand and gravel areas of riffles and shoals (Freeman, 1983). The diet of P. antesella includes snails, limpets, and insect larvae. Etnier and Starnes (1993) report longevity of three or more years.
REMARKS: The type locality of the amber darter is the Conasauga River, Bradley County, Tennessee. This darter is listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
ORGINAL DESCRIPTION: Williams and Etnier described the amber darter in 1977.
Percina is a diminutive of Perca, meaning perch.
Antesella means anterior saddle, referring to the distinct position of the first dorsal saddle.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Federally listed as endangered, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has more information on the amber darter.
Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.