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Tessellated Darter

Etheostoma olmstedi


This member of the Perch family has a long, cylinder shaped body. It is straw yellow colored with dark X’s and W’s along the midline of the sides, dark speckles and zigzags along the sides and top, and dark saddle like blotches along the back. The belly is a creamy white color. Two black lines extend from the eyes to the mouth and snout. The tip of the snout is completely separated from the upper lip by a deep groove. The tail is fairly square shaped. During breeding seasons, males will become almost completely black. Average size is 2 – 3 inches. Primarily eats crustaceans, insects, algae, and eggs. 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.


Prefers sand or mud-bottomed lakes, rivers, and streams. It frequently can be found in warmer brook trout streams.

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Spotted by

Laurel Hollow, New York, USA

Spotted on Aug 22, 2012
Submitted on Aug 22, 2012

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