SCIENTIFIC NAME: Percina evides

CHARACTERISTICS: The gilt darter, one of Alabama’s most colorful Percina species, is known for the brilliant reddish orange on the underside of the head. The body color of breeding males is olive with seven to nine blue-black or blue-green saddles and eight or nine lateral blotches that are often connected to form a continuous bar along the sides. The base of the caudal fins has two oval white or yellow spots. A distinct dark bar is present below the eye, and the cheeks are usually unscaled. The spiny dorsal fin has a blackish orange to amber base with a yellowish orange submarginal band. The pelvic and anal fins are blue-black. The gilt darter is similar in appearance to the bronze darter, Percina palmaris, which lacks reddish orange coloration on the head and has partly to fully scaled cheeks. See Jordan (1877c) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 1.8 to 3 in (45 to 75 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Percina evides occurs in tributaries of the Ohio River basin and in western tributaries of the Mississippi River in Missouri and Arkansas. We collected gilt darters on several occasions in both the Bear Creek and Shoal Creek systems. Our collections at two sites in the upper Elk River are the first records of gilt darters in the Alabama section of this river system.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Gilt darters inhabit gravel to small cobble shoals, large streams, and small rivers with moderate current. Individuals are most often taken in deep chutes and runs and at the head of riffles. We collected individuals in breeding condition during March and the spawning season may extend until May. Page et al. (1982) report that P. evides is an egg burier that spawns over sand and gravel interspersed with cobble and boulders in the upstream reaches of riffles. These fishes feed on midge larvae, blackflies, caddisflies, mayflies, and occasionally on snails (Starnes, 1977). Tudor (1982) indicates a longevity of three years and marked change in diet with age and season for a Minnesota population.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Jordan and Copeland described the gilt darter in 1877.

Percina is a diminutive of Perca, meaning perch.

Evides means comely or attractive, referring to the gilded lower head and body of breeding males.

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