SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ammocrypta beani

CHARACTERISTICS: The naked sand darter is characterized by a slender body with a pointed snout and a moderately large head and mouth. The body lacks pigmentation along the sides and the breast. The preopercle, opercles, cheek, nape, and venter are unscaled. A dark submarginal band is present on each dorsal fin. In life, A. beani is transparent, with a yellow to yellow-orange flush on the back. Dusky bands are present on the caudal and anal fins. Williams (1975) places A. beani in the beani species group along with A. bifascia and A. clara. See Jordan (1877b) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 1.5 to 2.2 in (38 to 55 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: The naked sand darter is known from the Hatchie River system in Tennessee and Mississippi river drainages from the Big Black south to Lake Pontchartrain and east along the Gulf slope to the Mobile basin. It is also distributed below the Fall Line in the Mobile basin and in the Escatawpa River drainage in extreme southwest Alabama.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: This species prefers large streams and rivers with moderate current and shifting substrates of clean sand. It is frequently associated with other sand-loving species, including the silverjaw minnow, Ericymba buccata, and the orangefin and longnose shiners, Notropis ammophilus and N. longirostris. It is also known to occur sympatrically with the southern sand darter, A. meridiana, which prefers substrates with both sand and silt. Simon et al. (1992) report spawning in the Tallapoosa River from mid-May through early June, with adults congregating and spawning on sandy bars adjacent to large shoals. Protolarvae abundance peaks in June. Spawning likely extends through August in Alabama. Our examination of specimens from several different areas indicates that individuals feed almost exclusively on midges and other prey inhabiting sandy substrates.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Jordan described the naked sand darter in 1877.

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

Beani is for T. H. Bean, the ichthyologist who first collected the species.

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