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  Family Percidae  

Family Percidae--Perch Family

The perch family is second only to the minnow family in diversity of North American fishes. All but three species in the family are darters, the others being the walleye, sauger and yellow perch. Darters tend to live in on the bottom of streams or lakes and dart about for food. They generally do not have a gas bladder. Characteristics include two dorsal fins, thoracic pelvic fins with one spine and five rays and ctenoid scales.

crystal darter--Crystallaria asprella [extirpated]
western sand darter--Ammocrypta clara [state endangered]
eastern sand darter--Ammocrypta pellucida [state endangered]
mud darter--Etheostoma asprigene

greenside darter--Etheostoma blennioides
This moderately slender darter has six or seven dark cross bars on the back and a nipple-like extension at the middle of the upper lip. The greenside darter is found in areas of swift water with gravel or rocky riffles in creeks and small rivers as well as large lakes. Feeding activities take place during the day with larval aquatic insects being the main prey items. Spawning occurs from late March through April. Eggs are attached to filamentous algae or aquatic mosses. Maturity is reached in the spring of the year following hatching. Most individuals do not live longer than three years during which they may attain a length of slightly over six inches.

rainbow darter--Etheostoma caeruleum
The rainbow darter (to three inches) has three dark cross-bars on the back and differs from the similar orangethroat darter by having the body deepest beneath the spinous dorsal fin and the pectoral fin with 13-15 rays. The dorsal, caudal and anal fins are red with a blue edge. This darter lives in rocky and gravel riffles of clear streams with permanent water flow. A bottom-dweller, it feeds mainly on insect larvae, snails and crayfish. Spawning occurs from late March into May. Eggs are buried in the gravel bottom.

bluebreast darter--Etheostoma camurum [state endangered]
bluntnose darter--Etheostoma chlorosoma
fringed darter--Etheostoma crossopterum
Iowa darter--Etheostoma exile [state endangered]
fantail darter--Etheostoma flabellare
slough darter--Etheostoma gracile
harlequin darter--Etheostoma histrio [state endangered]
stripetail darter--Etheostoma kennicotti
least darter--Etheostoma microperca

johnny darter--Etheostoma nigrum
The johnny darter (to two and three-quarter inches) is a thin, straw-colored fish with about six dark cross-bars on the back and little w and x markings on the back and sides. The upper lip and snout are separated by a continuous groove, which is different than in many darters. This darter is found in more creeks than rivers, avoiding those with excessive turbidity and strong currents. It is found more often in pools than in riffles. Immature insects are the primary food items. Eggs are deposited on the underside of flat rocks or other objects on the bottom while the mating pair is upside down. Males stay with the nest, which may contain up to 1,100 eggs, until hatching. Spawning occurs in April and May.

cypress darter--Etheostoma proeliare

orangethroat darter--Etheostoma spectabile
The orangethroat darter is a stout fish with six to ten indistinct dark cross-bars on its back. The sides often show dark horizontal lines. It differs from the similar rainbow darter by having a body that is deepest in front of the spinous dorsal fin and having a pectoral fin with 11 or 12 rays. This darter is found in small creeks over a gravel or rock bottom where the current is slow. Insect larvae, snails and crayfish comprise the diet of this fish. Spawning occurs from mid-March through May. Fry move to the nests of smallmouth bass after hatching. Advantages in this behavior may include protection afforded by the adult smallmouth which is guarding its own eggs and an increased supply of the preferred food items. Maturity is reached in the second or third summer of life. Adults may attain two and three-quarters inches in length.

spottail darter--Etheostoma squamiceps

banded darter--Etheostoma zonale
The banded darter has six or seven dark cross-bars on the back and nine to thirteen dark green bars on the side that extend onto the belly to join those on the other side. The body at the base of the tail has a vertical series of three or four small spots. This darter inhabits clear streams with a strong permanent flow. Immature insects from the bottom of the water body are eaten. Spawning occurs from mid-April through May. Eggs are attached to filamentous algae and aquatic mosses. Most individuals do not mature until their second year. A size of three inches may be reached.

ruffe--Gymnocephalus cernuus [probable]

yellow perch--Perca flavescens
The yellow perch is shaped like a sunfish and may attain a length of 16 inches. It has a deep body shape, two separate dorsal fins and a large mouth. Six to nine dark bars cross the back and extend vertically onto the sides. This perch is primarily found in northern rivers, glacial lakes and Lake Michigan where it lives in large schools. It feeds in late afternoon or evening on small crustaceans, insects and fish. Spawning occurs in spring, with the eggs being scattered in long gelatinous strings over sandy or gravelly bottoms or vegetation. The average life span is seven to eight years.

logperch--Percina caprodes
gilt darter--Percina evides
blackside darter--Percina maculata
saddleback darter--Percina ouachitae [extirpated]
slenderhead darter--Percina phoxocephala
dusky darter--Percina sciera
river darter--Percina shumardi
stargazing darter--Percina uranidea [extirpated]
sauger--Stizostedion canadense

walleye--Stizostedion vitreum
The walleye is a slender fish with two separate dorsal fins, a large mouth and a forked tail. A large black blotch is normally found near the base of the last few dorsal fin spines. The lower tip of the tail fin is lighter in color than the rest of the fin. The walleye is found in large streams and reservoirs. Feeding activities take place at night mainly for fishes and insects. The common name of the fish comes from its opaque-appearing eye. This eye is so efficient at gathering light that in daytime hours the fish is blinded by normal sunlight. Spawning occurs at night in very shallow water from late February through April. Eggs are scattered at random and stick to the substrate. The life span is commonly 10-12 years during which the fish may reach three feet in length.

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