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slenderhead darter

slenderhead darter (Percina phoxocephala) [female] Photo © Lance Merry

slenderhead darter (Percina phoxocephala) [male] Photo © Lance Merry

Features and Behaviors

The slenderhead darter may attain a length of two to three and one-half inches. Its long, pointed snout is distinctive. The back and upper sides are yellow-brown with wavy, dark lines. Ten to 16 dark, round blotches or bars are present along each side. The lower sides and belly are white to yellow. The first dorsal fin has an outer band of orange while the second dorsal and tail fins have brown lines. A black, “teardrop” mark is present under each eye. The gill covers are connected by a membrane on the throat. The lateral line is complete.

The slenderhead darter may be found statewide in Illinois. This fish lives in creeks and rivers in a strong current over a gravel bottom. The slenderhead darter spawns in spring. The eggs are mixed into the bottom substrate by the spawning actions. No parental care is given. This fish eats immature insects, small crustaceans and fish eggs.

Illinois Range


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

Illinois Status: common, native