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Wildlife Johnny Darter Page


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This photograph may be used for non-commercial purposes.  Please give credit to the photographer.
Photo by: John Woodling
 Johnny Darter
 Etheostoma nigrum

Habitat: Propst (1982) found that the species may be present in water from 6-18 inches deep with a moderate current and a sand and rubble substrate. Individuals are usually found along stream banks or in the shallow flat runs. Johnny darters are bottom-dwelling fish, often perching on rocks of the stream bottom, head oriented into the current.

Description: A moderate-sized darter; mouth and snout small and inconspicuous; opercles have scales while preopercles (cheeks), nape and breast are scaleless; two dorsal fins, first spiny, second soft-rayed; caudal fin squarish; pectoral and pelvic fins located close to each other behind the gills, pectorals large and fanlike while pelvics are small and round; anal fin with one spine; lateral line complete. Adults are almost translucent with yellow-brown or brown-black overtones, darker on the back fading to white on the stomach. There may be darker markings on the top of the back. In addition, along the lateral line are a series of distinctive 'W', 'M', or 'V' shaped markings. Breeding males are darker, especially on the front half of the body. The maximum size is about 2-2.5 inches, with only a few individuals reaching three inches in length.

Range in Colorado: Native to Colorado, this darter is found in isolated portions of the South Platte River Basin. Populations are encountered in the transition portions of several tributaries as the streams flow from the mountain areas out onto the plains (Propst 1982). The johnny darter has also been taken in the South Platte River below Chatfield Reservoir. Populations are abundant in the North Platte Drainage of Colorado. In addition, johnny darters are found in Haviland Reservoir north of Durango (M. Japhet, personal communication), and Shadow Mountain Reservoir in the headwaters of the Colorado River. These last two locations are undoubtedly the result of a bait bucket transfer or from accidental inclusion in a fish plant of some other species.

Status: This species is not listed.






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