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Family: Percidae
The Perches, Darters, Sauger, Walleye, & etc

Darters are native to North America where they comprise one of the most stunning and diverse groups of freshwater fishes found any where in the world with over 215 species separated into 4 genera, AmmocryptaEtheostoma, Nothonotus, and Percina. However, researcher are discovering new species all the time using DNA data to split currently designated species into 2 or more species. Currently, there are 37 species known in North Carolina: 20 Etheostoma, 4 Nothonotus, and 13 Percina. Ten species can be seen here in Transylvania County, and several other species are just a short drive away in nearby counties.


These small bottom dwellers occupy several crucial niches in freshwater ecosystems and most species are intolerant of siltation and pollution, mostly due to habitat degradation from poor land use practices, land development, chemical spills, dams, clear cutting trees next to brooks, streams, and rivers, and other harmful human activities. Many of our darters are threatened, endangered, or extinct.


Darters can easily be separated from other fishes, but can confusing when attempting to identify females and juveniles, especially when just starting out. There are several key characteristics among darter species that can help with quick identification. Although color can be used for male darters, looking at the pattern is crucial in identifying females and juveniles.  

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