SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma kennicotti
CHARACTERISTICS: Etheostoma kennicotti is distinguished by its deep caudal peduncle, short spiny dorsal fin, and moderately connected gill membranes. Black bands are present on the caudal and soft dorsal fins. The stripetail darter is tan along the top and dusky-white on the ventral surface. Breeding makes are golden orange. Six to seven poorly developed brown saddles are present along the back and nine to 11 vertical blotches along the sides. A black spot is evident over the pectoral fin. The spiny dorsal fin is black to brown submarginally with yellow or cream knobs at the tips of individual spines. As in other Catonotus species, the head and nape region of males become darker and swollen during the reproductive season. Etheostoma kennicotti can be distinguished from the similar E. flabellare by the submarginal dark band in the spiny dorsal fin and absence of longitudinal stripes on the sides.
ADULT SIZE: 1.2 to 2.8 in (30 to 70 mm). Individuals in the Cumberland drainage attain a maximum length of 2.8 inches (70 mm), while those in the Green and Tennessee drainages reach maximum lengths of 2 inches (50 mm).
DISTRIBUTION: Stripetail darters are found in tributaries of the lower Ohio River basin in Illinois and Kentucky and in the Tennessee and upper Cumberland River drainages. In Alabama, this species is most commonly found in thePaint Rock River system and less frequently throughout other streams systems in theTennessee River drainage.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Etheostoma kennicotti prefers shallow pools with slabrock substrate, as food in upland areas of small to moderate-sized streams. Slabrocks provide cover and serve as spawning sites for breeding males. Our observation in Alabama support reports of Page (1975), who indicates that spawning in southern Illinois occurs in slab pools from early April through May. Males select cavities under slabrocks as nesting sites, and eggs are laid on the underside of the slabs. The number of eggs per cluster ranges from 50 to 400 (Page, 1975). These fishes live to be a maximum of three years old. The diet of E. kennicotti consists of ostracods, copepods, cladocerans, isopods, stoneflies, mayflies, fishflies, and midge larvae.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Putnam described the stripetail darter in 1863.
Etheostoma means strain mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.
Kennicotti in honor of Robert Kennicott, who first captured this species in Illinois.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.