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Bluebreast

BLUEBREAST DARTER

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma camurum

CHARACTERISTICS: The bluebreast darter is distinguishable by a compressed body, deep caudal peduncle, and horizontal banding along the posterior two-thirds of the body. The snout is wide and rounded, while the lips are thick with a wide frenum on the upper lip. Gill membranes are separate to slightly connected. On the back are seven to 10 obscure saddles, and adult males have eight to 12 obscure but vertically elongated lateral spots along the sides. The body is olive green speckled with red or brown spots on the sides. On breeding adults the breast is green to bluish green, while the spiny dorsal fin is reddish gray with dark pigment anteriorly near the base. Etheostoma camurum is similar to the redline darter, E. rufilineatum, which has cheeks and gill covers marked with horizontal dashes, and to the boulder darter, E. wapiti, which is generally larger, lacks blue color on the breast, and has a more pointed snout. See Cope (1870b) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 1.4 to 2.2 in (35 to 55 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Etnier and Starnes (1993) report a population of bluebreast darters in the Elk River system just north of the Alabama-Tennessee state line. Chances of the species occurring in Alabama appeared to the dim until 1993 when we discovered a fairly substantial population in the Elk River proper, approximately half a mile south of the state line. The same collection produced another fish species not previously known from Alabama, the mountain madtom, Noturus eleutherus.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: We collected bluebreast darters around large boulders and over cobble in swift riffles and chutes. In addition, we collected and released substantial numbers of the redline darter and four individuals of the boulder darter. Spawning occurs from mid-May to mid-June; eggs are deposited in gravel and sand near large boulders (Mount, 1959). Stiles (1972) reports that areas behind boulders offer protected habitats for spawning adults. Midge larvae, baetid mayflies, blackflies, and caddisflies are primary food items (Bryant, 1979). Future sampling in the Elk River and other large streams near the Tennessee state line may yield additional localities for the bluebreast darter in Alabama.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Cope described the bluebreast darter in 1870.

ETYMOLOGY:
Etheostoma means strain mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.
Camurum means blunt-headed.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.


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