NANFA-- Darters, some more

Bruce Stallsmith (
Mon, 01 May 2000 00:16:08 EDT

I finally sat down with various books and realize that one of the darters
that I have from the Brier Fork of the Flint River in Alabama is actually a
new one to me -- the Snubnose Darter, _Etheostoma simoterum_. It's very
similar to the Black Darter, _E. duryi_, but has a pronounced saddle pattern
on the back instead of a continuous blotchy black lateral band. So in my
native Alabama tank, with 4 darters of 3 species (_E. tuscumbia_ also) the
duryi and simoterum are actually hitting the surface when I put in
freeze-dried bloodworms. The tuscumbia is much shyer, ambushing passing
bloodworms from the safety of a flowerpot.

These darters all much prefer live earthworms, I suppose, but also seem very
avid to grab bloodworms. The sub-genus _Ulocentra_ (incl. duryi and
simoterum) includes at least 2 very good aquarium fish. Maybe captive
propagation? They could replace Corydoras...

I also received a really good publication put out by the Geological Survey
of Alabama, "Investigations of Slackwater Darter, _Etheostoma boschungi_,
populations, 1992-94", circular 184. This darter is federally listed as
threatened, and has an interesting ecology: spawning in rain-flooded fields
in the late winter, and then adults spend the summer in pools rich in
detritus. This species is an excellent argument against channel
straightening and other modifications of stream morphology. The species is
also found in the Brier Fork, but I haven't seen it yet (probably just as
well, I don't have a federal permit).

--Bruce Stallsmith
Huntsville, AL "just 20 minutes from the Brier Fork"

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