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cypress darter

cypress darter (Etheostoma proeliare) [female] Photo © Lance Merry

cypress darter (Etheostoma proeliare) [male] Photo © Lance Merry

Features and Behaviors

The cypress darter may attain a length of about one and one-half inches. Its lateral line is very short. The gill covers are connected by a membrane across the throat, and the cheek and gill covers are completely covered with scales. The green back is crossed by six to nine dark saddles. Dark dashes can be seen along the middle of the green-brown side, and spots are scattered throughout the sides. A thin, dark, “teardrop” mark is located under each eye. The male has a dark base and edge, a red band in the middle and a dark spot in front of the first dorsal fin.  The breeding male has black anal and pelvic fins.

The cypress darter may be found in extreme southern Illinois. This fish lives in vegetation over mud in ditches, swamps and lowland lakes. The cypress darter spawns in spring. Its distinctive eggs, which are indented on one side, are deposited singly on aquatic plants. This fish eats immature insects and small crustaceans.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Percidae

Illinois Status: common, native