Orangethroat Darter
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • The flanks show about 8 blotches/bars; there are 42-50 lateral line scales (10-38 pored); there are usually 12 or fewer pectoral rays.
  • Close-up head: The mouth is terminal and shows a frenum, the cheek is partially scaled.
  • Close-up dorsal fin: The 1st dorsal has 8-12 spines, the 2nd has 11-15 rays, there is a gap between lobes.
  • Side view of a male: There are about 8 blue vertical bars with red in between and faint thin horizontal stripes.
  • Close-up anal fin of a male : The anal fin has 2 spines and 4-8 rays and is exclusively blue.
  • Bottom view of a male: Notice the narrowly attached opercles, the throat is orange, the pelvic fins are normal-sized.
  • Bottom view of a breeding male: Notice the orange throat.
  • Side view of a breeding male: Males develop blue vertical bars interpresed with red, the anal fin is blue and throat is orange.
  • Side view of a breeding male: Males develop blue vertical bars interpresed with red, the anal fin is blue and throat is orange.
  • Side view of a breeding male and a female: Males develop blue vertical bars interpresed with red, the anal fin is blue and throat is orange.
  • Dorsal fin of a breeding male: Notice the orange spots on the dark blue first dorsal fin.
  • Anal fin of a breeding male: Notice the all-blue anal fin without any orange.
  • Close-up head of a breeding male: Notice the orange throat.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Perches (Percidae)
Body
Mouth and Snout: Mouth terminal, slightly oblique, small teeth on jaws. No barbels. Body Pattern: Back yellow olive with 3-11 dark saddles or blotches. Sides with about 8 dark brown blotches or irregular vertical bars, often several thin dark horizontal lateral stripes, particularly anteriorly along and above the lateral line. Belly white. First dorsal with 2-3 horizontal bands, the darkest submarginal. Second dorsal and caudal with several diffuse horizontal rows of spots; other fins lightly pigmented. 42-50 ctenoid lateral scales. Body shape and size: Body fusiform to cylindrical and slightly elongated; slightly laterally compressed anteriorly; round to oval in cross-section. Typically 35-65 mm (1.5-2.5 in) TL; maximum about 75 mm (3 in).
Fins
Rounded or square tail. Dorsal fin with 2 lobes, slightly connected or separated, the first with 8-12 (usually 10-11) spines and the second with 11-15 (usually 12-14) rays. Pelvic fins thoracic. Adipose fin absent. Anal fin with 2 spines and 4-8 (usually 6-8) rays.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The orangethroat darter can be distinguished by its color pattern and by its lack of a modified scale between the pelvic fins. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Males with blue vertical bars with orange-red pigment in between them (most pronounced on caudal peduncle). Anterior of head blue; opercle and throat orange. Belly orange-red. First dorsal with orange-red at base and rest of fin dark blue. Second dorsal and caudal with alternating orange and blue bands, and other fins blue, but pigment not as intense as on first dorsal (photo). Small tubercles on ventral surface and fins.
Juveniles
Similar to adults.
Hybrids
None known from Wisconsin.
Compare Similar Species
Dorsal Spine/Rays
Darter, Banded10-12/11-12
Darter, Fantail7-8/13-14
Darter, Iowa8-12/10-12
Darter, Least5-7/9-10
Darter, Mud10-12/10-14
Darter, Orangethroat8-12/11-15
Darter, Rainbow8-13/10-15
Anal Rays
Darter, Banded7-10
Darter, Fantail7-8
Darter, Iowa7-9
Darter, Least5-6
Darter, Mud8-9
Darter, Orangethroat4-8
Darter, Rainbow6-8
Lateral Scales
Darter, Banded41-53, all pored
Darter, Fantail41-53, 27-35 pored
Darter, Iowa55-65, 18-28 pored
Darter, Least32-38, 0-7 pored
Darter, Mud45-50, 25-43 pored
Darter, Orangethroat42-50, 10-38 pored
Darter, Rainbow37-49, 20-34 pored
Body Pigment Pattern
Darter, Banded6-7 saddles on back; 8-13 blotches or vertical bars not extending onto back or belly except in males where bright green bars encircle body; blotch at base of tail
Darter, Fantail9-13 faint saddles on back; 9-13 irregular vertical bars extending onto back but not belly, overlain with many thin horizontal stripes; no spots at base of tail
Darter, IowaAbout 8 saddles on back; dark mottling often with 9-12 blotches/vertical bars not extending onto back or belly; blotch at base of tail
Darter, Least6-9 blotches on back; mottled, with 7-12 small irregular blotches; blotch at base of tail
Darter, Mud8-11 saddles on back; 9-12 blotches or irregular vertical bars, often partly fused along lateral line, encircling c. peduncle; 3 vertical spots at tail base
Darter, Orangethroat3-11 saddles on back; about 8 blotches or irregular dark vertical bars not extending onto back or belly, faint thin horizontal stripes on upper sides; blotch at base of tail
Darter, Rainbow3-11 saddles on back; 8-13 regular vertical bars extending onto back but not belly, encircling caudal peduncle; no spots at base of tail
Other Characteristics
Darter, BandedGill membranes broadly attached, usually 13-15 pectoral rays; breeding males with green throat and anal fin; cheek scaled
Darter, FantailGill membranes broadly attached; 12-13 pectoral rays; breeding males with black throat and anal fin; cheek unscaled
Darter, IowaGill membranes narrowly attached; 12-14 pectoral rays; breeding males with cream throat; greenish-blue anal fin; cheek scaled
Darter, LeastGill membranes narrowly attached; usually 10 pectoral rays; breeding males with gray throat, brick-red anal fin; cheek scaled
Darter, MudGill membranes narrowly attached; usually 13-14 pectoral rays; breeding males with blue-gray throat, blue anal fin; cheek scaled
Darter, OrangethroatGill membranes narrowly attached, usually ≤12 pectoral rays; breeding males with orange throat, blue anal fin; cheek with a few scales
Darter, RainbowGill membranes narrowly attaches; usually 13 pectoral rays; breeding males with blue-black throat, orange anal fin; cheek largely unscaled
Similarity Index
Darter, BandedVery similar
Darter, FantailModerately similar
Darter, IowaModerately similar
Darter, LeastModerately similar
Darter, MudVery similar
Darter, OrangethroatN/A
Darter, RainbowVery similar
Comments
Darter, OrangethroatNot known from WI, but occurs in Illinois very close to the border, so conceivable as a stray
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