SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma zonale
CHARACTERISTICS: Banded darters acquire a beautiful emerald green tint during the breeding season. The back is yellow-green; the sides have nine to 13 dark green vertical bars that often encircle the ventral side. Six to eight dark greenish brown saddles traverse the back. Three vertically aligned black spots appear at the caudal fin base. The dorsal fins have a green margin, a dusky midsection, and a red base. The banded darter is distinguishable from the brighteye darter, E. lynceum, by E. zonal having 44 to 58 lateral line scales compared with 39 to 43 for E. lynceum. See Cope (1868b) for original description.
ADULT SIZE: 1.8 to 2.4 in (45 to 60 mm).
DISTRIBUTION: Widely distributed, the banded darter occurs from the upper Mississippi River basin in Minnesota east to Pennsylvania, south to Alabama, and west to eastern Oklahoma. Our collections of this species were limited to Shoal and Cypress creeks, the Paint Rock and Elk river systems on the northern side of the Tennessee River, and a single collection in the Bear Creek system in Franklin County.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Etheostoma zonale prefers swift riffles of moderately large to large cobble or gravel, slabs, and small boulders in moderate-sized streams and rivers. Our best collections came from larger shoals with extensive mats of aquatic vegetation, particularly Podostemum, and attached mosses. Etnier and Starnes (1993) report that breeding color intensifies in males in late February and spawning occurs in April and May in Tennessee. Eggs are attached to aquatic vegetation. Lachner et al. (1950) report longevity of three or more years for a Pennsylvania population. Bryant (1979) and Cordes and Page (1980) found banded darters consuming a mixed diet of midge and mayfly larvae, with lesser amounts of blackflies and trichopteran larvae.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Cope described the banded darter in 1868.
Etheostoma means strains mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.
Zonale means banded.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.