Percina shumardi
    River Darter

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



  • Percina, "little perch"
  • shumardi, named for Dr. G.C. Shumard, surgeon with the US Pacific Railroad Survey and its discoverer. (It was common practice on 18th and 19th Century expeditions for the surgeon to do double duty as naturalist.)
  • Common name, from its preferred habitat


  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Chordata,
    • Subphylum Vertebrata,
      • 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 relatively large and robust darter of large streams and rivers.
  • Length to 3"
  • Weight
  • Coloration
    • olive brown, with dark blotches on the sides forming 8-10 faint bars, the first 4 or 5 being narrower than the last 4 or 5.
    • black spots between the first and second spines and the last three spines in the first dorsal fin
  • Body
    • dorsal fin of 15 rays
    • anal fin of 11 rays, greatly enlarged and tuberculate in breeding males.
    • lateral line of about 15 scales
  • Head
  • Lifespan


  • Best distinguished from other Percina darters by the pattern of spots on the forward, spiny dorsal fin.


  • Manitoba to Ohio, south to Texas and Alabama.
  • Found in the Rainy River drainage of the western BWCA but absent from the Superior drainage to the east.


  • Deeper, lower ends of riffles in streams of moderate to large size. The most common darter in the Mississippi River channel.
  • Substrate of gravel, rubble, or partially exposed bedrock.
  • Does very well in waters too turbid for most other darter species.





  • It is believed that spawning occurs at depths of 1½' to 2', in strong current, over scattered rubble and clean gravel.


  • Seldom found in large numbers and probably rare or absent in some portions of its original range.


Boreal border

Last updated on 17 October 1999