Darters

Life History & Michigan History

The most diverse of the three groups is the darter. Except for the log perch, darters average 2-4 inches in length. Most of the species live in riffle or graveled stream habitats. The log perch, one of the larger darters, can be found in many types of aquatic systems.

Darters feed by using their snouts to turn over pebbles to feed on invertebrates. During the breeding season, males of several species develop bright breeding colors. One of the more colorful species in Michigan is the rainbow darter. The male breeding colors are bands of blue and red-orange running vertically on the sides. Many who encounter rainbow darters in breeding color consider them the most beautiful of all Great Lakes fish. Three species of darters are currently listed as state threatened. The river darter is listed as state endangered.