SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ammocrypta bifascia

CHARACTERISTICS: The Florida sand darter is similar in character to the naked sand darter, Ammocrypta beani, but A. bifascia differs by having two dark bands, one marginal and one submarginal, in the spiny dorsal fin. The soft dorsal and anal fins each contain two bands that are lighter in color. Marginal pigmentation is much less developed in females. Breeding tubercle development and distribution over the body also distinguishes A. bifascia from A. beani. Individuals of A. bifascia have tubercles only on the ventral surface of the pelvic spine and rays, while tubercles cover both the dorsal and ventral surfaces of these fins in A. beani. The tubercles of A. bifascia are approximately half the size of those on A. beani. The Florida sand darter is the largest species of the beani species group. Live individuals generally have a soft yellow and orange flush on the body and a bluish green tint on the head. Fins may be somewhat yellow, particularly during the breeding season.

ADULT SIZE: 2 to 2.6 in (50 to 65 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Ammocrypta bifascia is distributed in coastal drainages from the Perdido River east to the Choctawhatchee River proper, including the Escambia, Yellow, and Blackwater river systems.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Like the naked sand darter, the Florida sand darter inhabits larger streams with shifting sand bottoms and moderate to swift currents. It is frequently associated with other sand-loving species, including the silverjaw minnow, Ericymba buccata, and the longnose shiner, Notropis longirostris. Spawning begins in April and extends through July, perhaps into August. Heins (1985) reports males are significantly larger than females and the maximum life span is about three years. Compared to A. beani, A. bifacia mature at a larger size, reproduce for a shorter period of time, and generally live longer. The diet of A. bifascia consists almost exclusively of midge larvae and microcrustaceans found in sand habitats.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Williams described the Florida sand darter in 1975.

Ammocrypta means sand-concealed, referring to this species’ habit of hiding in the sand with only their eyes exposed.

Bifascia means two-banded, referring to the two bands in the dorsal and anal fins.

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