• Family: Percidae (Perches and darters)
• Other Names: None
• Ohio Status: No special status
• Adult Size: Typically 3-4 inches, can reach 5 inches.
• Typical Foods: Insect larvae, crustaceans, and other aquatic invertebrates.
The dusky darter is one of Ohio's larger species of darters. They have a series of dark blotches down their side often forming a line in females or young. Large males can be very dark colored and the blotches down their side form dark vertical bars that are taller than their width. This species of darter never has bright colors on their body. They differ from the very similar blackside darter in having three dark blotches at the base of their tail placed vertically above one another. The bottom two of these blotches are often fused together. They also differ from both blackside and longhead darters in not having a well developed tear drop marking under the eye. The dusky darter has only small dots on their first dorsal and other fins. The blackside darter has a large dark blotch on the front lower portion of the first dorsal fin.
Habitat and Habits
The dusky darter is found in medium to large streams and rivers. At one time their population had been reduced to three streams in the Scioto River system. Today they are found through out much of the Ohio River drainage including such river systems as the Muskingum, Scioto, Walhonding, Hocking, and Raccoon Creek. They are also found in the Maumee drainage of Northwest Ohio primarily in the Tiffin and St. Joseph Rivers. Dusky darters are found in areas with moderate to swift current near submerged brush, roots, or other woody debris typically in 2-4 feet of water.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
The dusky darter spawns in spring. They burry their eggs in course sand or gravel in riffles and no further parental care is given.