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Blackside Darter

Blackside Darter. Photo by Brandon Brown.

State Threatened



Watch Field Notes: *Oklahoma's Darters* on YouTube.


This is a small, streamlined fish in the perch family that is approximately 3.5 inches long. It has a yellowish-olive body color with 7-8 horizontal, rectangular blotches along each side. It also has a dark spot at the base of the tail fin.

Blackside darters were likely uncommon in Oklahoma historically. Even so, they are susceptible to changes to river flows by reservoirs and impoundments. Other threats include stream-bank destabilization, water pollution, and agricultural runoff.


Approximately 3.5 inches long.


Blackside darters have been found in the Mountain Fork, Poteau, Kiamichi, and Little River watersheds in Oklahoma and their associated tributaries. Records exist from the Sallisaw and Lee Creek watersheds. While the Oklahoma range is limited, this fish is widespread in several eastern states in the Mississippi River drainage. This species most likely prefers streams with high water quality and substrates containing a mix of gravel and larger cobble (rock). It may also find refuge in aquatic vegetation.

Life Cycle

This darter is closely related to the federally-threatened leopard darter, and probably shares its life cycle traits. Spawning is thought to occur in late winter or early spring. The average lifespan is likely no more than two years. It feeds on small aquatic invertebrates. This darter is considered to be uncommon and has only been found in low densities.

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