SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma simoterum
CHARACTERISTICS: A member of the subgenus Ulocentra, the snubnose darter is distinguished from the similar black darter, Etheostoma duryi, by having a blunter snout, separate lateral blotches, and a frenum. Eight quadrate dorsal saddles are present on the back; the fourth saddle occasionally extends downward to the lateral line and fuses with one of the lateral blotches. Eight or nine vertically elongated, lateral blotches are present on the sides, above which are numerous, moderate-sized red dots that form irregular longitudinal lines. The breast, venter, and lower peduncle are orange. The pelvic and anal fins and the lower head region are blue-green. The spiny dorsal fin has a red ocellus in the first membrane, a yellow basal band, and a red distal band. Several elongate red spots in each membrane form a somewhat wavy banding pattern. The soft dorsal fin has red pigment throughout the membranes. Etnier and Starnes (1993) recognize two subspecies of E. simoterum; E. s. atripinne occurs in the Cumberland, Duck, and Buffalo river systems, while E. s. simoterum occurs from the Paint Rock River upstream. A broad zone of intergradation occurs between the Duck and Elk rivers.
ADULT SIZE: 1.6 to 2.4 in (40 to 60 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: The snubnose darter is widely distributed throughout the Tennessee River drainage in upland streams downstream to the Duck River system and in the Cumberland River drainage upstream to Cumberland Falls. Most collection locations in Alabama are from northern tributaries of the Tennessee River and from the Bear Creek system.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: This species is found in small, clear streams and medium-sized rivers with moderate current over gravel or bedrock-stream substrates. Our observations indicate that spawning occurs from March to early May, peaking in April, as in other species of Ulocentra in Alabama. These times are similar to the spawning season Page and Mayden (1981) report. Single eggs are deposited on the sides of large stones or sticks from a horizontal to inverted position. Page and Mayden (1981) report that snubnose darters live for a maximum of 18 to 24 months, varying with geographic location. The diet of E. simoterum consists of midge larvae, mayflies, caddisflies, and microcrustaceans.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Cope described the snubnose darter in 1868.
Etheostoma means strain mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.
Simoterum generally means flat- or blunt-nosed.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Snubnose darters in Alabama have be described as a separate species and named the Tennessee darter by Powers and Mayden in 2007; that change will be posted soon.