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Etheostoma exile - Iowa Darter

male Iowa Darter

The Iowa darter is found in natural lakes in Ohio that were formed by glacial activity. These lakes are often referred to as pothole or kettle lakes. The photo to the left is a male and below a female.


Iowa Darter
Etheostoma exile

At-a-Glance

Family: Percidae (Perches and darters)

Other Names: None

Ohio Status: No special status

Adult Size: Typically 1.5-2.5 inches, can reach 3 inches.

Typical Foods: Insect larvae, crustaceans, and other aquatic invertebrates.
Description
The Iowa darter has a long slender body shape and a very short blunt snout. They have 9-12 dark squarish blotches along their side. These are blue on breeding males and often less distinct or absent on females. Iowa darters have a light brown back and white or cream colored belly and throat. They also have a distinct tear drop under the eye and a very short lateral line which ends beneath the first dorsal fin. The second dorsal, tail, and pectoral fins have many small dark spots that tend to form wavy rows. Breeding males have a dark blue base to the dorsal fin, followed by a narrow clear band, a wide red-orange band, another thin clear band, and a thin blue band on the outer edge. Males also have some blue on the anal fin and the spaces between the blotches along their side, and lover sides are flushed with red. Females lack all reds but occasionally have some faint blue in the blotches along their side.

Habitat and Habits 
Iowa darters are found in natural lakes and very sluggish streams or marshes with dense aquatic vegetation and clear waters. In Ohio they are primarily found in glacially formed natural lakes often referred to as pothole or kettle lakes. Historically they were found in Nettle Lake of extreme NW Ohio, a group of small pothole lakes between Bellefontaine and Urbana Ohio, and in many small pothole lakes in NE Ohio. Additionally, they were found in two man-made lakes where one or several of these small natural lakes were flooded to form a larger reservoir. These included Buckeye and the Portage Lakes. Today they are still present in those natural lakes that still have very clear water and an abundance of aquatic vegetation primarily in the group of lakes between Bellefontaine and Urbana. They are still present in some locations in NE Ohio as well and small populations may still be present in Nettle Lake and parts of the Portage Lakes.

Reproduction and Care of the Young
Iowa darters breed in spring in shallow water. The females deposit their eggs on roots or vegetation near the waters edge and the male guards the eggs until they hatch.

Provided courtesy of Ohio Department of Natural Resources

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