SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma artesiae
CHARACTERISTICS: The redspot darter is one of the largest Etheostoma species in Alabama. Individuals have a broad frenum on the upper lip and a small pointed head. The back and sides of the body are a mottled light olive; the lower head, breast, and gill membrane areas are white. The sides of breeding males are adorned with various sizes of distinctive large red dots. The venter is red-orange in breeding males, the pelvic fins are blue, and the pectoral fins are clear. Both dorsal fins are quite colorful, with a blue margin followed by thin white, red, clear, and red bands, and ending in a white band at the fin base. The caudal and anal fins are similar with blue margins, a thin white band, followed by red then white bands. The caudal fin has a light blue base.
ADULT SIZE: 1.8 to 3.7 in (45 to 95 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: Etheostoma artesiae, the redspot darter, is common throughout the Tombigbee and Alabama river drainages, including the Black Warrior and Cahaba river systems. It is absent from the upper Coosa and upper Tallapoosa river systems and from streams draining the Fall Line Hills, except in localized preferred habitats. Several isolated populations are known from Halawakee Creek in the Chattahoochee River drainage. The redspot darter has been described as a separate species from the redfin darter, Etheostoma whipplei, which is not found in Alabama.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Etheostoma artesiae inhabits riffles and pools in small to medium-sized streams, over a variety of substrates including slabrock, cobble, rubble, gravel, sand, and silt. When these habitat components are missing, such as in the Coastal Plain, individuals gather around log and debris snags and rooted aquatic vegetation. Our observations indicate spawning from late March to early April. Suttkus’ field notes report March 1992 collections of female redfin darters running eggs at Salt Creek in Clarke County. Heins and Machado (1993) report spawning from late February to mid-May in Alabama. The diet includes insect larvae and small crustaceans (Miller and Robison, 1973).
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Platania described redfin darter in 1980 as a species distinct from the redfin darter, E. whipplei.
Etheostoma means strain mouth, possibly referring to small mouth.
Artesia is a reference to the type locality; the species was originally captured in an artesian well.
Piller et al. (2001) suggested using the vernacular name "redspot darter" in reference to the brilliant red lateral spots of nuptial 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. See also Texas' page, www.bio.txstate.edu/~tbonner/txfishes/etheostoma%20artesiae.htm.
Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.