SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma proeliare
CHARACTERISTICS: The cypress darter has six to nine dusky brown dorsal saddles and seven to 12 dark brown lateral blotches. Irregularly arranged dark brown spots appear as rows above and below the lateral line. Body color is olive brown on the back and sides and white on the venter and breast. Orbital bars are present on the head. The spiny dorsal fin has a black base and reddish orange blotches in the middle. The soft dorsal and caudal fins have orange or amber bands. Burr (1978) notes that this species and other species of the subgenus Microperca have cuplike webs of skin on their long pelvic fins.
ADULT SIZE: 1.1 to 1.5 in (29 to 38 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: Etheostoma proeliare occurs in Gulf slope drainages from east Texas to the Choctawhatchee River and north in the Mississippi River basin to Illinois. The cypress darter is broadly distributed throughout the Tombigbee River drainage and the extreme lower Alabama River drainage. Collection records are notably absent in streams draining the Fall Line Hills and Lime Hills sections of the Alabama River drainage. Scattered records of the cypress darter in the Conecuh River drainage may be due to insufficient sampling of its preferred habitat in this drainage. Collection records are lacking in all other coastal drainages.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Etheostoma proeliare commonly occurs around accumulations of woody debris, leaves, and aquatic vegetation in backwater pools of sluggish streams and swamps. Spawning occurs from late March to early June. Males exhibit chin-bobbing behavior to attract females to spawn (Burr and Page, 1978). Up to three eggs are deposited on a single substrate, usually dead leaves, twigs, and the sides and underside of rocks. These authors report that cypress darters are relatively short-lived, surviving up to 18 months. Foods include midge larvae, cladocerans, copepods, isopods, mayflies, and an occasional springtail.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Hay described the cypress darter in 1881.
Etheostoma means strain mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.
Proeliare is pertaining to battle, referring to a battlefield near the Tuscumbia River in Mississippi, where this species was discovered.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.