SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma brevirostrum

CHARACTERISTICS: Breeding holiday darter males exhibit the most distinctive coloration of all Ulocentra species in Alabama, including a median red band in the blue-green anal fin, a red ocellus in the first membrane of the spiny dorsal fin, and a narrow red band in the soft dorsal fin. Green pigmented areas darkened with black or dark brown occur on the lateral line. The lower sides have red blotches with white and /or bright yellow halos. The snout, breast, and entire back are green and the cheeks, opercles, and gill membranes are faint blue-green. The premaxillary frenum is absent or poorly developed. Exposed scales cover the venter, opercles, cheek, and nape, while the breast is without scales. Females are less colorful, developing a tint of green on the lateral blotches and dorsal saddles and, like males, a bright ocellus in the first membrane of the spiny dorsal fin.

ADULT SIZE: 1.5 to 2.1 in (38 to 53 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: The holiday darter is distributed in the Coosa River system in the Valley and Ridge, Piedmont, and Blue Ridge physiographic provinces (Suttkus and Etnier, 1991). Collection records in Alabama are limited to the Shoal Creek system. Disjunct populations occur in the upper Conasauga, the upper Coosawattee, and the upper Etowah river systems in Georgia and Tennessee.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The holiday darter prefers medium to large, clear streams with moderate to fast current and mixed substrates consisting of boulders, rubble, gravel, sand, and river weed. Little is known about the biology of this species, but it is likely similar to other Ulocentra. Examination of available specimens indicates that spawning occurs during April and May. Diet of this interesting species consists of aquatic insect larvae and microcrustaceans. Populations in the upper Shoal Creek system appear relatively protected since they occur in the Talladega National Forest, whereas populations in the lower Shoal Creek drainage may have been locally extirpated due to development of small water-control impoundments.

REMARKS: The type locality of the holiday darter is Shoal Creek in the Talladega National Forest, Cleburne County, Alabama.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Suttkus and Etnier described the holiday darter in 1991.

Etheostoma means strain mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.

Brevirostrum means short beak, referring to this species’ blunt snout.

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