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Percina copelandi - Channel Darter

The channel darter is one of the smallest species of fish found in Ohio. This species was probably very common in the Ohio River before it was impounded. It was also very common along beaches and gravel bars in Lake Erie until the introduction of the exotic round goby. Now, this species, and many other small bottom dwelling species are no longer found in Lake Erie.

Channel Darter
Percina copelandi


Family: Percidae (Perches and darters)

Other Names: None

Ohio Status: Threatened

Adult Size: Typically 1-2 inches, can reach 2.5 inches.

Typical Foods: May fly larvae, midge larvae, and other aquatic invertebrates.
The channel darter is a small slender fish and has 10 to 15 small oblong dark blotches along the side. This species has a continuous deep groove which separates the upper lip from the mouth. Channel darters are yellowish-olive with the scales outlined in brown. Channel darters differ from johny darters by having solid dashes along their side rather than "w" or "x" shaped marks like johnny darters.

Habitat and Habits 
Channel darters are found large course sand or fine gravel bars in large rivers or along the shore of Lake Erie. Up until the invasion of the round goby large schools of channel darters could be observed on the bars around the Lake Erie islands. It is likely the Lake Erie population no longer exists. They are still found in the Ohio River and the lower portion of the Scioto, Muskingum and Hocking Rivers. There may also be a small remnant population in the lower Maumee and Sandusky Rivers in the Lake Erie drainage.

Reproduction and Care of the Young
Channel darters spawn during the spring and summer. Males defend territories centered around at least one rock. The females select a mate and then deposit their eggs in the gravel on the downstream side of the selected male's rock. This species remains in water that is deeper than three feet during the day and migrates into shallow water at night.

Provided courtesy of Ohio Department of Natural Resources

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