Banded Darter

Banded darter from the Illinois River.  Photo by Brandon Brown



A small fish of Ozark streams, the banded darter is named for the 9-13 vertical bars or bands that extend the length of the fish. The barred sides of breeding males become brilliant green. Additionally, red spots form on the fins during the breeding season.


May reach 3 inches in size.


One of the most widely distributed darters in North America, the banded darter has been documented from New York to Kansas and from Minnesota to Louisiana. In Oklahoma, this fish occurs in the Arkansas River basin in the Boston Mountains and Ozark Highlands of the northeastern quarter of the state. Banded Darters tend to prefer moderate size streams with algae and deep, swift riffles.

Life History

This darter spawns in areas with large amounts of algae during April and May. Banded darters are primarily insect eaters, with midges and other flies comprising the bulk of their diet. Darters appear to be visual feeders and are generally most active during daylight hours.

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