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orangethroat darter

orangethroat darter (Etheostoma spectabile) [female] Photo © Lance Merry

ornagethroat darter (Etheostoma spectabile) [male] Photo © Lance Merry

Features and Behaviors

The average life span of the orangethroat darter is four years. It grows to an average length of one to two inches and may attain a maximum length of about three inches. There are two dorsal fins, the first with spines. The back is arched, and the lateral line is incomplete. Dark bars (blue on the male, brown on the female) are present on the sides. The body has a green-brown back and a white to orange belly. The dorsal and tail fins have red coloring and a blue edge. Large males have a blue anal fin, a blue or black pelvic fin and two orange spots on the base of the tail. A thin teardrop mark is seen under the eye.

The orangethroat darter lives in creeks and rivers with a gravel or rock bottom and no silt. This fish lives near the bottom. It reaches maturity at an age of two years. Spawning occurs in April with the female depositing eggs on gravel riffles. Eggs hatch in nine to 10 days. This fish eats crustaceans, fish eggs and insects.

Illinois Range


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

Illinois Status: common, native