Crystal 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 mouth is subterminal with obvious teeth and a frenum.
  • The anal fin has 1 spine and 15-16 rays.
  • There is a continuous stripe over the snout and a frenum is present.
  • The 1st dorsal lobe has 14 spines, the 2nd dorsal lobe has 14-16 rays. The two lobes are close together.
  • The back shows 3-4 dusky saddles, the sides have 10-12 oval blotches.
  • The body is elongated, there are 89-95 pored lateral line scales.
  • Alternative side view.
  • Alternative side view.
  • Alternative side view.
  • Alternative side view.
  • Alternative side view.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Perches (Percidae)
Mouth and snout: Mouth subterminal, horizontal, minute teeth on jaws. No barbels. Body patterning, color, and scales: Back and upper sides tan or olive; sides translucent and silvery; belly silvery white. 3-4 broad dusky blotches or saddles on back (often faint), confluent with a row of 10-12 darker and better-defined oval BLOTCHES on sides. Fins lightly pigmented or clear. 89-95 ctenoid lateral scales. Body shape and size: Body fusiform to cylindrical and elongated; round to oval in cross section. Typically 100-150 mm (4-6 in) TL; maximum in Wisconsin about 175 mm (7 in).
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Forked tail. Dorsal fin with 2 lobes, distinctly separate but close together, the first with 14 spines and the second with 14-16 (usually 15) rays. Pelvic fins thoracic. Adipose fin absent. Anal fin with 1 spine and 15-16 rays.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The crystal darter can be distinguished by its small (not extending to anterior of eye) subterminal mouth without obvious canine teeth, by its greatly elongated body, with a body depth of less than 14% of standard length, its unscaled belly without a modified scale between the pelvic fins, and its single anal fin spine. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Similar to non-breeders; males with minute tubercles on anal and pelvic fins.
Similar to adults.
Compare Similar Species
Body Depth/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, Crystal89-95 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, BluntnoseModerately similar
Darter, CrystalN/A
Darter, IowaModerately similar
Darter, JohnnyModerately similar
Darter, LeastModerately similar
Darter, Western SandVery similar