SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma coosae
CHARACTERISTICS: A robust species, the Coosa darter is characterized by a blunt snout, small mouth, and six rays in the broadly joined gill membranes, compared to five rays in most other Ulocentra species. Etheostoma coosae is most similar to the Cherokee darter, E. scotti, which also has six rays, sometimes five, in the gill membranes. The spiny dorsal fin of E. coosae is banded whereas in E. scotti the fin is entirely pigmented. The spiny dorsal fin has a medial red band through its entire length, but it lacks the front ocellus common to several other Ulocentra. Clear bands followed by dark bands occur above and below the red band. The medial portions of all soft dorsal fin membranes are red. Body color is yellow-olive, with eight to nine dark blotches both on the back and along the sides. The lower part of the snout and gular region are light green, while the anal fin and upper and lower parts of the caudal fin are turquoise. Lateral blotches have a slight green wash.
ADULT SIZE: 1.6 to 2.6 in (40 to 65 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: Etheostoma coosae is endemic to the Coosa River system in Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. It is replaced in the upper Etowah River system by E. scotti.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The Coosa darter is widespread over rubble in raceways, around boulders, near sandbars, and occasionally in pool areas below riffles. O’Neil (1981) reports spawning from mid-March through mid-May for a central Coosa River population, with peak activity in April. Longevity in this population approaches three years. During spawning, the female places single eggs in small cracks and crevices in wood, rocks, or other similar structures, and the eggs are immediately fertilized by a male. Spawning position varies from upright to horizontal. The diet of E. coosa consists of midge larvae, microcrustaceans, mayfly larvae, and various other items including plant material, water mites, and mollusks. Dipterans are consumed in greater frequency during spring and summer, whereas crustaceans are a significant component in fall and winter.
REMARKS: The type locality of the Coosa darter is a small stream near Chesterfield, Cherokee County, Alabama.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Fowler described the Coosa darter in 1945.
Etheostoma means strain mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.
Coosae means in reference to its distributional range, the Coosa River.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.