Bluebreast Darter Fact Sheet
New York Status: Endangered
The bluebreast darter is a small, colorful fish that rarely grows larger than three inches long. It can be distinguished from other darters by its blunt, rounded snout, and its gill covers which are not connected across the breast. The body is generally olive green in color and there is a broad light band adjacent to the dark edge of the second dorsal (back), anal (bottom rear), and caudal (tail) fins. Breeding males are extremely colorful, with orange tinted dorsal fins, numerous small crimson spots on the sides, and a bright blue breast - hence its name.
The bluebreast darter spawns in the spring from May to June. Adult fish migrate from deeper water areas of a stream to selected riffles. The eggs are deposited behind large rocks and hatch in approximately ten days. Aquatic insect larvae make up the bulk of this darter's diet.
Distribution and Habitat
The bluebreast darter is found in large streams from Tennessee and North Carolina through Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and southwestern New York. it prefers stream sections with fast-flowing current, where the substrate consists of sandy gravel and large stones. The stones provide protection for this darter, which is usually found behind, beside, or under the stones. In New York, the bluebreast darter is only found in the upper reaches of the Allegheny drainage basin.
Since there have not been any studies to date to quantify the status of bluebreast darter populations, it is not possible to determine trends in abundance. However, the sparse bluebreast population in New York State is restricted to the Allegheny River basin.
The Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) goal is to maintain secure, abundant and self-sustaining populations of the bluebreast darter.