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Coastal

COASTAL DARTER

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma colorosum

CHARACTERISTICS: Breeding coastal darter males are distinguished by a series of small orange to red spots that extend along the side from the pectoral fin to the caudal fin base. Below these spots is a series of dark lateral blotches that are ovoid or quadrate and centered on the lateral line. Red in the spiny dorsal fin is limited to the posterior three to five membranes, resulting in an incomplete band from front to back. An incomplete black band extends posteriorly for six to eight membranes from the front of the fin. Breeding males have a weak orange stripe on the lower side, while the breast, gill membranes, lower gill covers, cheeks, and side of the snout are turquoise, as are the anal, pelvic, and caudal fins.

ADULT SIZE: 1.2 to 2.3 in (30 to 58 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Etheostoma colorosum is distributed in Gulf coastal drainages from the Perdido River system east to the Choctawhatchee Bay basin. In Alabama the coastal darter occurs extensively throughout the Conecuh, Escambia, and Yellow river systems and less frequently in the Choctawhatchee River drainage.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The coastal darter is commonly found in areas of moderate to swift flow where it is associated with log snags or other debris. Hard cobble and rubble are typically absent in the Coastal Plain, replaced there by zones of swift flow through log and debris snags over a substrate of sand and occasionally gravel. A region of hard substrate does occur in the Dougherty Plain physiographic district, which provides suitable habitat and partially explains the frequent occurrence of this species in the region. We have examined numerous individuals running milt and eggs in April. Spawning probably occurs throughout the range from early March to late April. Little information exists about the life history of this long-known, but only recently described, species.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Suttkus and Bailey described the coastal darter in 1993.

ETYMOLOGY:
Etheostoma means strain mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.
Colorosum means abundant color, referring to the exuberant colors on breeding males.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division protects this fish from capture or possession.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.


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