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Duskytail Darter Etheostoma percnurum


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Duskytail Darter
© David Etnier/U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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

Description 2 1/2" (6.5 cm). Elongate body. Yellow to olive above with 10-15 bars or saddles; paler below. Dark markings on fins; 2 separate dorsal fins; first dorsal fin in adult males has bright yellow fleshy knobs on ends of spines. In breeding male, head swells and darkens, and first dark saddle becomes very dark and prominent.

Endangered Status The Duskytail Darter is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered throughout its range in Tennessee and Virginia, where it once occupied the middle Cumberland River and the upper Tennessee River. Darters require clear water free of silt, and many have suffered from residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural development practices that cause runoff into their waterways. Coal mining runoff, chemicals used in agriculture, and other contaminants have polluted the rivers, and dam construction has erected barriers that prevent the fish from migrating to new areas or breeding with fish of other populations. Isolated populations, like those of the Duskytail, are vulnerable to any changes to their ecosystem, such as chemical spills.

Habitat Quiet pools and eddies in medium to large clear, cool streams and rivers over rock and gravel.

Range Cumberland and Tennesse river systems, Virginia and Tennessee.