SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma tuscumbia
CHARACTERISTICS: The Tuscumbia darter is characterized by heavy scalation on top of the head, a short snout, small mouth, and a well-developed frenum. The back has five to seven variously developed saddles, and the sides have small blotches along the midline. Both sexes are olive with gold or gold-brown spots. Orbital bars are present, as is a distinct bar or spot at the base of the caudal fin. The fins are for the most part clear, with weak banding due to scattered pigment in the rays. See Gilbert (1887) for original description.
ADULT SIZE: 1.4 to 2.5 in (35 to 64 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: Endemic to the Tennessee River drainage, the Tuscumbia darter is represented by several widely scattered populations restricted to vegetated limestone springs of the Highland Rim. Etnier and Starnes (1993) report several collection sites in southern Tennessee that are now inundated by Pickwick Reservoir. The Tuscumbia darter is not common throughout its range but, when found, local population densities may be high for the available habitat.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Etheostoma tuscumbia lives among aquatic vegetation in ponded areas of limestone springs with exceptionally good water quality. Koch (1978) reports no sharp, well-defined spawning peak, finding gravid females year-round in Buffler Spring in Lauderdale County. Increased spawning activity was noted from January through March over clean gravel and sand substrate. Longevity is two or more years in Buffler Spring. Food items consist of amphipods, snails, and midge larvae, all of which are abundant in limestone springs in north Alabama.
REMARKS: The type locality for this species is Tuscumbia Spring in the town of Tuscumbia, Colbert County, Alabama. The Tuscumbia darter is protected by rules and regulations of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Gilbert and Swain described the Tuscumbia darter in 1887.
Etheostoma means strain mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.
Tuscumbia means from the type locality, Tuscumbia Spring, which in turn is named for the Cherokee Indian chief Tuscumbia.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.