Percina maculata
    Blackside Darter

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods



  • Percina, "little perch"
  • maculata, from the Latin, "spotted"
  • Common name, from the prominent black band on its side, formed by several, nearly connected, dark blotches


  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Chordata, animals with a spinal chord
    • Subphylum Vertebrata, animals with a backbone
      • Superclass Osteichthyes, bony fishes
      • Class Actinopterygii, ray-finned and spiny rayed fishes
      • Subclass Neopterygii
      • Infraclass Teleostei
        • Superorder Acanthopterygii,
        • Order Perciformes, the perch-like fishes
        • Suborder Percoidei
          • Family Percidae, the true perches
            • Genus Percina,


  • A moderate-sized darter species
  • Length to 4"
  • Weight
  • Coloration
    • greenish-yellow with 7 oblong dark splotches more or less connected along the sides and irregularly mottled on the back.
    • spawning male brilliantly colored, showing flashes of green or gold instead of the normal dark pigmentation.
  • Body
    • dorsal fin of 12 rays
    • anal fin of 9 rays
    • unique among darters, it possesses a partially developed air bladder.
  • Head
    • cheeks covered with small scales



  • Saskatchewan and North Dakota to New York, south to Alabama and Oklahoma.


  • Small to medium-sized streams with moderate gradient
  • found in a variety of habitats, including gravel riffles, chutes with steady flow and pools. Usually avoids large rivers.
  • Often swims in midwater and may even leap out of the water to capture flying insects. It is better suited to slowly rather than rapidly-flowing water.


  • Mayfly larvae and flying insects.




  • Spawns in spring when water temperature reaches 60º F. Males migrate upstream into spawning pools, typically 1' to 2' deep with bottoms of sand and gravel.. Some ritualistic fighting may occur at this time among males.
  • A female moves into the spawning area and is then joined by the males. She burrows into the gravel or sand bottom, stimulating a male to mount her and fertilize the eggs produced.
  • Spawning is repeated with a number of males until a collection of as many as 1,700 eggs has been laid.



Boreal border

Last updated on 17 October 1999