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Watercress Darter Etheostoma nuchale


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Watercress Darter
© U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Family: Percidae, Perches and Darters view all from this family

Description 2" (5 cm). Mottled dark markings on sides and back, sometimes forming bands; brown to black in female; alternating reddish and bluish in male. Female yellow to white below. Male red to orange below. Dorsal fin banded in red and blue, colors brighter in male, duller in female. Other fins have blue bases in male; speckling in female. Three black spots near base of tail; in male an additional 2 yellow or orange spots.

Endangered Status The Watercress Darter is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered Alabama, where it lives in Jefferson County. This fish is native to three spring systems, and has been successfully transplanted in a fourth. Any species that exists in small, isolated populations in restricted habitats is extremely vulnerable. In fact, one of the spring populations was reduced to a single female when the owner of the spring introduced Grass Carp into the pond to crop the aquatic vegetation, on which the darter depends. That spring and its outlying habitats was purchased by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and established as the Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge in 1980. The darter pond was revegetated and repopulated with darters, and a second pond was established for another population downstream.

Habitat Pools, ponds, and runoff from spring systems.

Range Jefferson County, Alabama