Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Reproductive Biology of the Frecklebelly Darter, Percina stictogaster (Teleostei: Percidae)

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The reproductive biology of the Frecklebelly Darter, Percina stictogaster, was studied in the Red River, Menifee-Powell counties, Kentucky, from 2009-2012. Males and females mature at Age II. Spawning occurs from late February to early April in water temperatures of 7-16° C in areas with strong current (0.16-0.88 m/sec) and fine gravel substrates. A 52 mm SL female collected in early March had 100 mature ova. Aquarium observations confirm this species buries its eggs in a manner similar to other Percina darters. Fertilized eggs were about 2.5 mm in diameter, clear, demersal, and slightly adhesive. At 10° C eggs hatched in 18-25 days (100% survival) into larvae 7-8 mm TL. Larvae were initially benthic, but became pelagic 2- 3 days later. By about 11 mm TL, the yolk sac was absorbed, and the young returned to the bottom. In early June, young (about 2 months old) were 16-25 mm SL and had acquired diagnostic pigmentation. They occupied areas with Justicia sp. or coarse woody debris in low-velocity habitats, adjacent to riffles.