SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma bellator
CHARACTERISTICS: The Warrior darter is a member of the subgenus Ulocentra. Individuals have a reduced or poorly developed premaxillary frenum, but their vomerine teeth typical of individuals in Etheostoma duryi. Two series of elongated blotches separated by a pale area extend along the sides from the pectoral fins posteriorly to the caudal fin. Another characteristic pigment pattern is a narrow orange stripe along the lower side. Breeding males are brightly colored with turquoise on the head, breast, and pectoral fin area. The front two and back two dorsal saddles, along with the anal fin, pelvic fins, and margins of the caudal fin, are dark turquoise. The spiny dorsal fin has a bright red ocellus in the first membrane followed by less intense red blotches that form a submarginal band across the entire fin. The Warrior darter can be separated from its near relative, the vermilion darter, E. chermocki, by the narrow orange stripe along its lower side; in E. chermocki, this stripe is broad and red or vermilion. The body of E. bellator is more slender with a longer tail area and shorter dorsal fins.
ADULT SIZE: 1 to 2.3 in (25 to 58 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: Etheostoma bellator is endemic to the upper Black Warrior River system of the Mobile basin. Collection records exist from Valley Creek and the Locust, Mulberry, and Sipsey fork systems, all of which drain the Cumberland Plateau.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Warrior darters occur in rubble pools and riffles, bedrock pools and raceways (generally over sandstone or shale substrates), and in flowing water over gravel-filled depressions in bedrock pools of small to medium sized streams. Spawning for this species occurs from March through mid-May, with peak spawning in April. Prey consists of aquatic insect larvae.
REMARKS: The type locality for the Warrior darter is Murphy Creek near Blount Springs, Blount County, Alabama.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Suttkus and Bailey described the Warrior darter in 1993.
Etheostoma means strain mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.
Bellator means warrior, for the Black Warrior River system, the drainage inhabited by this species.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.