|Florida Nature: Endangered Fish (3)|
Silverside (Menidia conchorum) Threatened- The key silverside
fish is only found in the Florida keys in Florida, from Key West north
to Long Key. A small fish, the key silverside is less than two inches
long and is silver with a dark line along it's middle. It is the
smallest known species of Menidia. The main habitat for the key
silverside fish is in shallow mangroves where there is a high density of
vegetation. Habitat destruction for development has reduced available
habitats through loss of a number of ponds and formerly occupied sites.
In addition to the native importance of the key silverside, it is also a
main food source for many predatory fish in Lake Waccamaw.
Crystal Darter (Crystallaria asprella ) Threatened- Originally crystal darters existed in the Mississippi River basin from Ohio to Minnesota and south to southern Mississippi, northern Louisiana, southeastern Oklahoma and the Gulf Slope in Escambia, Mobile Bay and Pearl River drainages. However, it is now extinct in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. The crystal darter can grow to 5 inches in length. It is olive-colored to tan with four dark saddles extending downward to its lateral line, a brownish stripe, and a whitish belly. It's maximum reported age is 3 years. The crystal darter prefers sand and gravel bars in large flowing rivers and streams of the Coastal Plain. It has the interesting habit of burying itself in the sand, leaving only its eyes above exposed; this is presumably to minimize body movement, thus conserving energy, and to maintain its position in the swift waters of its preferred habitats. Most individuals remain in deep water during the day and move to shallow sand and gravel bars at dusk to search for aquatic insects. Spawning begins in late February.
Harlequin Darter (Etheostoma histrio) SSC- Originally found in the much of Mississippi River drainage area from Kentucky to Louisiana, and from Escambia River in Florida to Neches River in Texas. Harlequin darters inhabit sand and gravel runs of small to medium rivers, usually near snags in swift moving water. The harlequin darter is distinguished by two large, tan to dark brown blotches near the caudal fin base and several large, dark spots on the side and ventral surface of the head and body. Harlequin darters frequent a variety of habitats, including upland streams with gravel and rubble riffles with swift flow and in lowland streams over sand in brush, debris, and log snags with moderate to swift current
Okaloosa Darter (Etheostoma okalossae) Endangered- Darters are characterized by the two fan like dorsal fins and the Okaloosa darter reaches scarcely 2 inches in length. They are found only in the Choctawhatchee Bay drainage in Florida, where they inhabit vegetated sand runs of clear creeks. The species specific population is currently unknown (estimated between 1,500 to 10,000). The Okaloosa darter is very likely to be displaced in its entire range by the brown darter. Efforts at Eglin Air Force Base to revive the darter’s dwindling population have been successful. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, as part of a recent status review, has recommended that the 1-to-2-inch fish with big eyes be down listed from endangered to threatened.
Southern Tessellated Darter (Etheostoma olmstedi) SSC- A member of the perch families these fish are generally less than 4.0 to 4.5 inches and found near the bottom of sandy and muddy pools of headwaters, creeks and small to medium rivers; and shores of lakes. In nature, the tessellated darter feeds on benthic invertebrates, primarily midge larvae (Chironomidae-Tendipedidae) but other organisms, such as amphipods, mayfly nymphs, cladocera and copepods, are taken in smaller amounts. Tessellated darters prefer sandy substrates on moderate to slow-flowing water. They can be collected in sandy lakes on occasion.
Key Blenny (Starksia starcki) SSC- A small fish, the key Blenny ranges from .8 to 1.1 inches long. Little is known about the habitat of the key blenny but it has been collected in surge channels between rows of corals in water less than 25 feet deep. The key blenny fish is only found off the Florida Keys, south of Big Pine Key. This fish has a pattern of brown bars broken up by a horizontal line with tan interspaces. The blenny fish are characterized among Gulf of Maine fishes by the position of their ventral fins, which are under or in front of the pectorals, combined with a single dorsal fin that is spiny throughout its length and extends the whole length of the trunk, and with a slender form, eel-like in some of them. These fish are often found in aquariums.
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