The Tesselated Darter is a small fish that lives in streams and rivers. Sometimes it lives along lake shores. They prefer quiet water.
It has a long, thin body shape and it grows up to three and a half inches long. The top part of this fish is olive-colored, with the bottom part being yellowish. Tesselated Darters have up to 11 dark "x" and "w" shapes on each side. They have large fins. You can tell the males from the females, because the males have black pelvic (chest) fins and anal (underneath toward the back) fins.
Tesselated Darters prefer areas where there is sand, mud, or gravel on the bottom.
Tesselated Darters breed from early March through June. They make a nest cavity under a rock, log, or other debris on the stream bottom. Sometimes they use an upside down mussel shell. Eggs are laid in the cavity in a layer up to three inches across.
After the eggs are laid, the female leaves and the male guards the eggs. Three or four males may have territories under the same rock.
Tesselated Darters grow quickly. They live between two and four years.
This fish eats aquatic insects and other small creatures, especially midges.
Predators of Tesselated Darters are mostly larger fish, but also turtles, kingfishers, and herons.
Relationships in Nature:
Midge Arrow Arum
Relationship to Humans:
Tesselated Darters are not big enough to eat, but they are sometimes used as bait to catch larger fish. They help control insect populations, such as flies and mosquitoes.