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Perciformes including Darters

Perciformes
Perciform Fishes of Alabama

Temperate Basses, Sunfishes, Perches, Drums and Croakers, Pygmy Sunfishes, Cichlids and Sleepers

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This is a phylogentic listing of the Perciformes in Alabama.  A species or group of interest may be found by holding the control key and typing "f" and the name of the species or group of interest.  This listing contains a hyperlink to a detailed description of the fish (if available), a very short description of where the fish is found and its conservation status.  To go directly to a listing of the descriptions available, go to Fish in Alabama.

Order Perciformes
Temperate Basses - Family Moronidae

White Bass Morone chrysops. Originally native to the Tennessee River and coastal drainages, but now introduced throughout larger waters of the Mobile River Basin. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Yellow Bass Morone mississippiensis. Native to the Tennessee River and lower Mobile-Tensaw River Delta in Alabama with a few scattered sightings of stocked individuals in the Black Warrior and Cahaba Rivers. Recently discovered in the upper Coosa River in large numbers. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Striped Bass Morone saxatilis. Both Gulf Coast and Atlantic strains of this prized game fish are found in Alabama. [The hybrid striped bass (M. chrysops X saxatilis), known as the palmetto bass, is stocked in larger waters throughout the state.] MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Sunfishes - Family Centrarchidae

Shadow Bass Ambloplites ariommus. One of Alabama’s more strikingly colored sunfishes. Prefers rocks and vegetation in streams of most river systems south of the Tennessee River. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Rock Bass Ambloplites rupestris. A panfish prized by fly fishers in the Tennessee River drainage and generally found only in streams of good quality and habitat condition. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Flier Centrarchus macropterus. Infrequently found in lowland areas throughout the Coastal Plain. Inhabits swamps, oxbows, overflow pools, and slow-moving streams. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Bluespotted Sunfish Enneacanthus gloriosus. This diminutive sunfish is uncommon in the state. Found only at scattered locations in the lower Tombigbee, Mobile-Tensaw River Delta and Mobile Bay tributaries, and the Escatawpa, Perdido, and Yellow Rivers. Low Conservation Concern.

Banded Sunfish Enneacanthus obesus. Common in Florida and along the Atlantic coast to New England, but known in Alabama only from the Perdido River system. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Redbreast Sunfish Lepomis auritus. Occurs in a variety of habitats in Alabama. Native to the Chattahoochee River, and perhaps parts of the Tallapoosa and Coosa Rivers, but introduced into the Black Warrior and Tennessee Rivers. Lowest Conservation Concern

 

Green Sunfish Lepomis cyanellus. This opportunistic species can be abundant in small headwater brooks, ponds, and polluted streams across the state. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Warmouth Lepomis gulosus. A heavy-bodied sunfish found throughout the state. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Orangespotted Sunfish Lepomis humilis. Brightly-colored as adults, these sunfish are sporadically encountered in the Mobile River Basin, but more frequently found in western tributaries to the Tombigbee River and in the Tennessee River drainage. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus. The ever popular "bream" to most anglers is stocked in ponds and found commonly and many times abundantly in all waters throughout the state. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Dollar Sunfish Lepomis marginatus. A brightly colored, short, and rounded sunfish found uncommonly in Coastal Plain streams across the state. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Longear Sunfish Lepomis megalotis. Brightly colored during the breeding season and widely found in all state waters where they prefer streams, creeks, and rivers. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Redear Sunfish Lepomis microlophus. This hardy sunfish occurs throughout the state, but is most frequently encountered in larger free-flowing waters. Stocked into ponds statewide. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Redspotted Sunfish Lepomis miniatus. Frequently found across the Alabama Coastal Plain and less common above the Fall Line, preferring lower gradient streams, swamps, and backwater sloughs. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Shoal Bass Micropterus cataractae. Restricted to Chattahoochee River tributaries, this uncommon species prefers riffles and shoals of moderate to fast-flowing streams near the Fall Line, rare in impounded waters. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Redeye Bass Micropterus coosae. A prized upland game species found in small to medium-sized creeks and streams above the Fall Line in the Mobile River Basin and introduced into the Chattahoochee River. Rarely found in impounded waters. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu. A Tennessee River native that occupies a wide array of habitats from small upland tributaries to the main Tennessee River channel. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Spotted Bass Micropterus punctulatus. A favorite of sport anglers that is located throughout the state from small upland creeks to reservoirs. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides. The premier southern sport fish found throughout the state in lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. Lowest Conservation Concern.

White Crappie Pomoxis annularis. Generally found in larger rivers and reservoirs. Prefers slack waters with extensive cover. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Black Crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus. Found statewide. Prefers slack waters in reservoirs and rivers, but also enters large streams and creeks with clearer waters. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Perches - Family Percidae

Naked Sand Darter Ammocrypta beanii. This delicate, translucent sand dweller is at home in larger rivers and streams of the Mobile River Basin below the Fall Line and the Escatawpa River. Prefers shifting substrates of clean sand with some gravel. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Florida Sand Darter Ammocrypta bifascia. This larger cousin of the naked sand darter prefers shifting clean-sand shoals of coastal rivers and streams from the Perdido River east to the Choctawhatchee River in Alabama. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Southern Sand Darter Ammocrypta meridiana. A scaly version of the naked sand darter found in the Mobile River Basin below the Fall Line. Generally found in smaller streams and creeks compared with other Alabama sand darters. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Crystal Darter Crystallaria asprella. Construction of impoundments has significantly changed the character of large gravel and sand shoals in free-flowing rivers resulting in a substantial decline in this species’ distribution, particularly in the Tombigbee River. Today, populations are widespread and abundant in the lower Tallapoosa and Cahaba Rivers, but scattered and unpredictable in the Conecuh and lower Alabama Rivers. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Redspot Darter Etheostoma artesiae. Occurs in riffles and pools of small to moderate-sized streams over a variety of substrates. Widespread throughout the Mobile River Basin. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Warrior Darter Etheostoma bellator. An uncommon snubnose darter endemic to the upper Black Warrior in the lower Locust Fork and Mulberry Fork systems. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Locust Fork Darter Etheostoma sp. cf. bellator. An undescribed darter known historically from only a few tributaries of the upper Locust Fork system. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Sipsey Darter Etheostoma sp. cf. bellator. An undescribed relative of the Warrior darter distributed in clear streams of the Sipsey Fork system upstream of Lewis Smith Reservoir, but absent from Hubbard Creek. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Greenside Darter Etheostoma blennioides. Restricted to large creeks and flowing rivers of the Tennessee River Valley. Alabama’s largest Etheostoma occupies cobble and gravel areas with algae and aquatic moss. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Blenny Darter Etheostoma blennius. This unique darter of the Tennessee River system is found in swift riffles and shoals of gravel, rubble, and cobble in northwestern Alabama. Low Conservation Concern.

Slackwater Darter Etheostoma boschungi. Tawny-colored males distinguish this Tennessee River species that is restricted to upland reaches of Cypress Creek, Swan Creek, and the upper Flint River. Listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Holiday Darter Etheostoma brevirostrum. This festively colored snubnose darter is found in the upper reaches of Shoal Creek, a cool, clear tributary to Choccolocco Creek of the Coosa River system. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Rainbow Darter Etheostoma caeruleum. Widespread and common in gravel and cobble riffles throughout the Tennessee River drainage in the state. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Bluebreast Darter Etheostoma camurum. Occupies cobble and slab riffles and shoals, and reaches the very southern extent of its distribution in the last free-flowing section of the Elk River in Alabama. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Vermilion Darter Etheostoma chermocki. Limited to upper Turkey Creek in the Locust Fork system. Can be abundant but is very restricted in distribution. Listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Bluntnose Darter Etheostoma chlorosomum. Restricted to the Mobile River Basin below the Fall Line, where it prefers swampy and low gradient backwaters of the Coastal Plain. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Lipstick Darter Etheostoma chuckwachatte. Limited almost exclusively to the Northern Piedmont Upland in the Tallapoosa River system in riffles of medium to large streams with moderate to swift current. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Ashy Darter Etheostoma cinereum. Occupies clear pools and eddies of large upland streams, but this darter has not been collected in the Alabama portion of the Tennessee River in more than 150 years. Extirpated.

Coastal Darter Etheostoma colorosum. This common and widespread species occurs in log snags and shoreline habitat of coastal streams from the Perdido River to the Choctawhatchee River. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Coosa Darter Etheostoma coosae. Endemic to the Coosa River system where it embraces cover near riffles and raceways in streams and small, spring-fed creeks. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Crown Darter Etheostoma corona. Restricted to the Cypress Creek system in the Tennessee River where it is widespread and abundant in headwater creeks and smaller streams. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Fringed Darter Etheostoma crossopterum. Aptly named for its ragged dorsal fin, this drab darter is uncommon in the Shoal Creek and Six Mile Creek systems in the Tennessee Valley. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Choctawhatchee Darter Etheostoma davisoni. This straw-colored darter is a pool resident of sandy-bottomed streams in southeastern Alabama. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Coldwater Darter Etheostoma ditrema. A spring and stream form of this imperiled species have recently been recognized. Both ecological forms occur scattered throughout the Coosa River system. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Tuskaloosa Darter Etheostoma douglasi. Fairly common in the middle reaches of the Locust Fork and the upper Sipsey Fork, but rather uncommon throughout the remainder of its distribution in the upper Black Warrior River. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Blackside Snubnose Darter Etheostoma duryi. Widespread and common in small to medium-sized streams throughout the Tennessee River drainage. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Brown Darter Etheostoma edwini. Found in lower Coastal Plain streams among aquatic vegetation and root mats, this species is distributed from the Perdido to the Chattahoochee River in southern Alabama. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Fantail Darter Etheostoma flabellare. Shallow gravel and cobble riffles in the Tennessee River Valley are home to this commonly occurring darter. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Swamp Darter Etheostoma fusiforme. True to its common name, this darter frequents low-gradient, slow-flowing streams and backwaters known only from a few locations in Alabama’s Coastal Plain. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Harlequin Darter Etheostoma histrio. Scattered throughout Alabama’s Coastal Plain, this darter occupies a variety of habitats from small swift streams with gravel and snag shoals to deep flowing rivers. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Blueside Darter Etheostoma jessiae. The beautiful azure markings befit the common name of this species found at scattered locations in the Tennessee River Valley and commonly in the Paint Rock River system. Low Conservation Concern.

Greenbreast Darter Etheostoma jordani. Moderate to swift riffles of cobble, gravel, and slab rock in the Coosa, Cahaba, and lower Tallapoosa Rivers are favored by this darter. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Stripetail Darter Etheostoma kennicotti. A light tan-colored darter infrequently encountered in upland stream pools of the Tennessee River system, but is rather common in the Paint Rock River system. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Tombigbee Darter Etheostoma lachneri. This Tombigbee River endemic is widespread and common throughout the Coastal Plain, but noticeably absent in streams draining the Black Belt. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Brighteye Darter Etheostoma lynceum. Although common in Mississippi and west Tennessee, this darter is very rare in Alabama, reaching the easternmost part of its distribution in the Escatawpa River system in Mobile and Washington Counties. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Lollipop Darter Etheostoma neopterum. Its common name refers to the fleshy knobs on the dorsal fin of this rare Tennessee River species. Known only from the Shoal Creek system in Lauderdale County. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Blackfin Darter Etheostoma nigripinne. A common stream dweller in the Tennessee River drainage found in a variety of aquatic habitats in the Highland Rim and Fall Line Hills. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Johnny Darter Etheostoma nigrum. Common below the Fall Line in the Mobile River Basin, usually not extending south beyond the Lime Hills region, and found at scattered locations in the Tennessee River drainage. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Watercress Darter Etheostoma nuchale. Deep, slow-moving backwaters of a few springs in Jefferson County are the entire known distribution of this highly restricted and rare species. Listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Goldstripe Darter Etheostoma parvipinne. Occurs widely, though scattered, throughout Alabama’s Coastal Plain, inhabiting aquatic vegetation, woody debris, mud, and silt in small, sluggish streams and spring seeps. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Rush Darter Etheostoma phytophilum. This rare khaki-colored spring-run dweller is found in the upper Black Warrior drainage in the Locust Fork system and a few tributaries to Clear Creek of the Sipsey Fork. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Cypress Darter Etheostoma proeliare. Prefers backwater, vegetated pools of sluggish Coastal Plain streams and swamps in the Tombigbee, Black Warrior, and lower Alabama River drainages. A few locations have been documented in the Conecuh River system. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Alabama Darter Etheostoma ramseyi. Found predominantly in Alabama River tributaries draining the Coastal Plain, with some localities in the Cahaba River above the Fall Line. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Redline Darter Etheostoma rufilineatum. The presence of this common species in Tennessee River collections indicates good, stable stream habitats. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Rock Darter Etheostoma rupestre. Generally confined to rocky, gravelly shoals and riffles in the Mobile River Basin principally below the Fall Line, but penetrating upland streams in the Cahaba, Coosa, and Black Warrior Rivers. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Snubnose Darter Etheostoma simoterum. Widely distributed in clear tributary streams of the Tennessee River drainage. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Speckled Darter Etheostoma stigmaeum. One of Alabama’s more common species, found throughout the Mobile River Basin, Conecuh River system, and in upper Bear Creek in the Tennessee River drainage. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Gulf Darter Etheostoma swaini. Widespread, preferring clear streams and rivers of the Coastal Plain with debris snags, rubble, and gravel. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Tallapoosa Darter Etheostoma tallapoosae. Fancies small Piedmont streams in the Tallapoosa River system. Low Conservation Concern.

Trispot Darter Etheostoma trisella. Last taken in Alabama in 1958, it was known from only two locations. Sampling efforts in Georgia have discovered additional populations; therefore upper Coosa River tributaries in Alabama may still harbor extant populations. Extirpated.

Tuscumbia Darter Etheostoma tuscumbia. Localized, but sometimes abundant, at selected limestone springs in the Highland Rim of northern Alabama in the Tennessee River drainage. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Boulder Darter Etheostoma wapiti. The only population of this rare darter in Alabama inhabits the Elk River near the Tennessee state line. Listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Banded Darter Etheostoma zonale. This emerald-colored darter frequents swift riffles and shoals with vegetation in streams and rivers scattered over the Tennessee River Valley. Low Conservation Concern.

Backwater Darter Etheostoma zonifer. Small, turbid streams and backwaters of Black Belt streams are home to this darter. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Bandfin Darter Etheostoma zonistium. The brilliant orange underside of males distinguishes this uncommon inhabitant of small Tennessee River streams in the extreme northwestern part of Alabama. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Blueface Darter Etheostoma sp. cf. zonistium. This rare cousin of the bandfin darter is found in Hubbard Creek of the upper Sipsey Fork and upstream of Upper Bear Creek Reservoir in the Tennessee River drainage. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Yellow Perch Perca flavescens. An introduced species in the Tennessee, Coosa, and Chattahoochee Rivers, but the population in Mobile-Tensaw tributaries is thought to be native. Low Conservation Concern.

Goldline Darter Percina aurolineata. Swift cobble and gravel shoals, and undercut banks in the Cahaba River near the Fall Line, are home to this uncommon darter. Listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Southern Logperch Percina austroperca. Occurs in sandy streams and rivers of southern Alabama from the Escambia River to the Choctawhatchee River. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Coal Darter Percina brevicauda. This diminutive darter is endemic to the Mobile River Basin occurring in the Locust Fork and Cahaba Rivers, and one tributary to the Coosa River. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Blotchside Logperch Percina burtoni. A rare darter that reaches the southernmost part of its distribution in clear headwater tributaries to the Paint Rock River in the Tennessee Valley. Historically known from Shoal Creek tributaries. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Logperch Percina caprodes. Individuals are found in waters ranging from reservoirs to headwater creeks throughout the Tennessee River drainage. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Gilt Darter Percina evides. Infrequent in the Tennessee River Valley preferring rocky and gravelly shoals in larger, flowing streams and rivers. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Mobile Logperch Percina kathae. Common in the Mobile River Basin. Most often encountered above the Fall Line in a variety of habitats from reservoirs to small streams. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Freckled Darter Percina lenticula. This uncommon giant of darters lives in deep, swift areas of flowing rivers and large streams in the Coastal Plain of the Mobile River Basin. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Blackside Darter Percina maculata. Infrequently found in stream pools in the Mobile River Basin and Tennessee River drainage. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Blackbanded Darter Percina nigrofasciata. Alabama’s most ubiquitous and common darter is found in a multitude of waters throughout the state, excluding the Tennessee River drainage. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Bronze Darter Percina palmaris. Larger upland streams of the Tallapoosa and upper Coosa River systems are preferred by this distinctive darter. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Slenderhead Darter Percina phoxocephala. Common north and west of Alabama but only occurs peripherally in the Bear Creek system of the Tennessee River drainage. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Dusky Darter Percina sciera. Has an unusual distribution, occurring commonly in shoals and riffles of larger streams and rivers of the Tennessee River drainage and the upper Tombigbee River and occasionally taken in lower Alabama River tributaries. Lowest Conservation Concern.

River Darter Percina shumardi. Prefers shoals of gravel, rubble, and cobble in free-flowing large rivers and streams of the Mobile River Basin and Tennessee River drainage. Impoundments have reduced populations of this darter. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Gulf Logperch Percina suttkusi. Uncommon inhabitants of larger streams and rivers in the Mobile River Basin Coastal Plain. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Snail Darter Percina tanasi. This most famous of darters is known only from one location in Alabama, the Paint Rock River system of the Tennessee River drainage. Listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Saddleback Darter Percina vigil. Inhabits swift gravel and sand shoals of flowing streams and rivers in the Alabama Coastal Plain. A few historical collections are known from the Tennessee River drainage. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Muscadine Darter Percina sp. cf. macrocephala. A fairly common endemic of the Tallapoosa River found in riffles and shoals with large rubble, and in deep runs over sand and gravel. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Warrior Bridled Darter Percina sp. cf. macrocephala. A rare undescribed species found only in Sipsey Fork upstream of Lake Lewis Smith. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Halloween Darter Percina sp. A rare darter known in Alabama only from the lower reaches of Uchee and Little Uchee Creeks. Occurs in riffles of high-gradient streams. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Sauger Sander canadense. This prized sport fish occurs commonly in larger streams and reservoirs in the Tennessee River drainage. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Walleye Sander vitreus. Occurs at scattered localities throughout the Mobile River Basin and some populations are locally common or abundant. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Drums and Croakers - Family Sciaenidae

Freshwater Drum Aplodinotus grunniens. "Gaspergou" are found in practically all large rivers and reservoirs in the state, but few records are known from coastal rivers in southeastern Alabama. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Silver Perch Bairdiella chrysoura. Occasionally enters fresh water in coastal areas. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Spotted Seatrout Cynoscion nebulosus. This favored sport fish migrates seasonally into the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Atlantic Croaker Micorpogonias undulatus. A common estuarine resident and occasional inhabitant of fresh coastal rivers. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Red Drum Sciaenops ocellatus. A large estuarine and marine sciaenid occasionally encountered in freshwater. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Pygmy Sunfishes - Family Elassomatidae

Spring Pygmy Sunfish Elassoma alabamae. This rare Tennessee River endemic is known historically and recently from less than a handful of spring locations in Limestone and Lauderdale Counties. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Everglades Pygmy Sunfish Elassoma evergladei. More common east of Alabama but does occur sporadically in the lower Coastal Plain and more frequently in streams of lower Baldwin County. Low Conservation Concern.

Banded Pygmy Sunfish Elassoma zonatum. Swamps and backwater areas of small Coastal Plain streams are choice habitats for this fairly common species. Also occurs in a few drainages above the Fall Line. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Cichlids - Family Cichlidae

Blue Tilapia Oreochromis aureus. A cultured species, escapees of which are occasionally encountered in state waters. Exotic.

Sleepers - Family Eleotridae

Fat Sleeper Dormitator maculatus. Found in brackish waters and occasionally in freshwater tidal creeks and sloughs around Mobile Bay. Low Conservation Concern.

Largescaled Spinycheek Sleeper Eleotris amblyopsis. Restricted to low salinity backwaters around Mobile Bay. Low Conservation Concern.


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