Bluntnose Darter
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank of breeding male.
  • 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 sides show W, X, and Y markings; there are 52-58 lateral line scales with less then 25 of them being pored.
  • The mouth is terminal to slightly subterminal, no frenum.
  • Close-up anal fin: Notice that the anal fin has 1 spine and 7-9 rays.
  • The 1st dorsal lobe has 8-9 spines, the 2nd lobe has 9-11 rays; there is a gap between the lobes.
  • The flanks are light colored showing "X", "Y", and "W" shaped blotches; there are 52-58 lateral line scales.
  • Head-on view: Notice that there is a continuous stripe around the snout without a gap at the tip; no frenum.
  • Side view of male breeder: Males are darker and develop a submarginal light band on their 1st dorsal lobe.
  • Head of breeding male: Males are darker and develop a submarginal light band on their 1st dorsal lobe.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Perches (Percidae)
Mouth and snout: Mouth terminal to slightly subterminal, horizontal, minute teeth on jaws. No barbels. Body patterning, color, and scales: Back and upper sides tan or olive with dark blotches and speckling; sides tan to straw with several “W”, “Y” and “X” shaped blotches along lateral line and often fine SPOTS present on upper sides; belly white. Dorsal and caudal fin spotted, other fins lightly pigmented or clear. 52-58 ctenoid lateral scales. Body shape and size: Body fusiform to cylindrical and elongated; round to oval in cross section. Typically 35-50 mm (1.5-2 in) TL; maximum about 65 mm (2.5 in).
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Rounded or square tail. Dorsal fin with 2 lobes, clearly separated, the first with 8-9 spines and the second with 9-11 rays. Pelvic fins thoracic. Adipose fin absent. Anal fin with 1 spine and 7-8 rays.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The bluntnose darter can be distinguished by its lack of a frenum (i.e., no connection between upper lip and snout; gap between them continuous), its single anal spine, and its light body with dark “X”, “W”, and “Y” markings, by its lack of a modified scale between the pelvic fins and its single anal spine. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Males darker than non-breeders, with yellowish submarginal band on first dorsal.
Similar to adults.
Compare Similar Species
Body Length/SL
Darter, Bluntnose14-18%
Darter, Crystal11-13%
Darter, Iowa14-18%
Darter, Johnny14-18%
Darter, Least16-20%
Darter, Western Sand11-13%
Darter, BluntnoseAbsent
Darter, CrystalPresent
Darter, IowaPresent
Darter, JohnnyAbsent
Darter, LeastPresent
Darter, Western SandAbsent
Snout Stripe
Darter, BluntnoseContinuous over snout
Darter, CrystalContinuous over snout
Darter, IowaGap at tip of snout
Darter, JohnnyGap at tip of snout
Darter, LeastContinuous or gap at tip
Darter, Western SandAbsent or gap at tip
Anal Spines/Rays
Darter, Bluntnose1/7-9
Darter, Crystal1/15-16
Darter, Iowa2/7-9
Darter, Johnny1/7-9
Darter, Least1-2/5-6
Darter, Western Sand1/9-12
Dorsal Spines/Rays
Darter, Bluntnose8-9/9-11, lobes separate
Darter, Crystal14/14-16, lobes close
Darter, Iowa8-12/10-12, lobes separate
Darter, Johnny7-9/11-14, lobes close
Darter, Least5-7/9-10, lobes close
Darter, Western Sand10-12/9-12, lobes far apart
Lateral Scales
Darter, Bluntnose52-58, <25 pored
Darter, Crystal9-95, all pored
Darter, Iowa55-65, <35 pored
Darter, Johnny37-50, all pored
Darter, Least32-38, 0-7 pored
Darter, Western Sand69-81, all pored
Similarity Index
Darter, BluntnoseN/A
Darter, CrystalVery similar
Darter, IowaVery similar
Darter, JohnnyVery similar
Darter, LeastVery similar
Darter, Western SandVery similar