Fun Blackfin Darter Facts For Kids

Vineet Adnala
Oct 20, 2022 By Vineet Adnala
Originally Published on Aug 31, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Discover really interesting blackfin darter facts.

Blackfin darters (Etheostoma nigripinne) are small freshwater Actinopterygii fishes also known as ray-finned fishes belonging to the subfamily of Etheostomatinae and family of Percidae. Etheostoma nigripinne fish are said to be different from other species belonging to the Etheostoma sub-family because of the soft dorsal fins present on breeding darter blackfin males.

The blackfin darter is related to many species belonging to the Etheostoma family especially the stripe tail darter because most of their characteristics are found to be similar. These fishes are known for their beautiful bands like coloration and tiny fins.

If you like reading articles like this one, be sure to check out tang fish facts or jackfish facts.

Blackfin Darter Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a blackfin darter?

Blackfin darters (Etheostoma nigripinne) are small tiny fishes that belong to the sub-family of Etheostoma, whose members also are known as darter. This species is also a part of the family of Percidae that are commonly known as ray-finned fish.

What class of animal does a blackfin darter belong to?

The blackfin darter is a fish that is classified under Actinopterygii, meaning a group of bony fishes.

How many blackfin darters are there in the world?

There isn't an estimated number as to how many blackfin darter fishes there are in the world but since it is an endemic species, this fish is only found in the eastern regions of the United States.

Where does a blackfin darter live?

The blackfin darter is presently an endemic species found in the eastern regions of the United States in the Tennessee River drainage up to Alabama streams, from the Paint Rock River to the Duck River systems. The Etheostoma nigripinne has evidently been disappearing from creeks in Alabama and being replaced by other Etheostoma species.

What is a blackfin darter's habitat?

A blackfin darter's habitat can be found in small lakes, rivers, and creeks, streams, bottom levels, or riffles. These fish can only be seen in shallow waters as it is easier for them to hunt down their prey like microcrustaceans and other tiny aquatic creatures.

Who does the blackfin darter live with?

A blackfin darter lives by themselves because they do not like living with similar species in the same site as them. They can get territorial about their prey.

How long does a blackfin darter live?

A blackfin darter's lifespan is not known but since it belongs to the Percidae family, it can be assumed that this darter lives for up to three years.

How do they reproduce?

Not much information is available regarding how the blackfin darter reproduces, however, there has been evidence that females set up nests in shallow waters and care for the fry. They breed during the months of March and June. Darters lay rows of eggs in their nest site within 24-36 hours of copulation and are later incubated for a month.

What is their conservation status?

The population of blackfin darter fish is said to be stable and of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List.

Blackfin Darter Fun Facts

What does the blackfin darter look like?

A blackfin darter is a small fish roughly around 2-4 in (6-7 cm) long, with a thin slimy body. Male blackfins are dark brown or black in color at the back and vertical sides while the middle part is grayish yellow in color.

Female and immature blackfins are lighter in coloration. The nigripinne particularly stands out for its soft dorsal fins present in breeding males. Their fin has a patch that is dusky gray in color with three branches per ray.

Yellow and black alternate band coloration is present on the vertical sides although depending on the pigmentation. Their color kind of looks similar to a rockfish or an albino clownfish.

Make sure to read these amazing blackfin darter facts about this fish with a unique patch.* Please note that this is an image of an orangethroat darter that belongs to the same family as the blackfin darter. If you have an image of a blackfin darter, please let us know at

How cute are they?

The blackfin darter is more appealing to look at while it swims in shallow water bodies.

How do they communicate?

Not a lot of information has been found about how the blackfin darter communicates but since this species belongs to the darter family, communication might be done through releasing chemicals or motions. Darters are said to be aggressive if related species are found in the same site as the blackfin.

How big is a blackfin darter?

They are around 3.5-5 in (8.9-12.7 cm) long, males darters are typically larger than female darters which are usually 2-4 in (5-10 cm) while males can exceed up to 6 in (15.2 cm). However, these fishes are much smaller compared to fishes like paddlefish or the shark.

How fast can a blackfin darter swim?

No information is given as to how fast a blackfin darter can swim, but studies have shown that this fish can swim up to the depth of almost 100 ft (30.4 m) in the water bodies it inhabits.

How much does a blackfin darter weigh?

The weighing range of this fish is not available presently as there is a lack of information for this freshwater fish.

What are the male and female names of the species?

These freshwater fishes do not have any separate names for the male and female species of Etheostoma nigripinne.

What would you call a baby blackfin darter?

A baby blackfin darter can be referred to as a fry.

What do they eat?

Their diet mainly consists of small aquatic beings like mayflies, midges, microcrustaceans, aquatic beetles, worms, and other tiny marine creatures they can prey on. These fishes have a strategy as to how they catch their prey.

They tend to hide behind small rocks or planktons during the day and hunt their prey during the night. This fish becomes territorial about its feeding site.

Are they aggressive?

They are a little aggressive in nature if they come across a similar kind of species. They are prone to become territorial of their site and prey. However, they do not have an aggressive nature towards humans.

Would they make a good pet?

They can actually make a good pet if provided with conditional environment for them, with a proper high flow of water and a constant supply of required foods. They can be kept in tanks with pH levels in the alkaline range as they prefer cooler waters.

They can be fed various worms or shrimps but since they are slow eaters it might be better to not place them with other species as they would also consume their food.

Did you know...

Blackfin darter fish can be caught in freshwater lakes and rivers. While fishing, it is said to be difficult to catch a blackfin darter fish because they nibble at the end of the baiting hook before consuming the prey on it. Therefore, the fishing line should be pulled at the last second from the river.

How did the blackfin darter get its name?

The blackfin darter was first described in 1985 by Braasch and Mayden. As the scientific name says Etheostoma nigripinne, in Greek, 'etheo' means 'to strain' and 'stoma' means 'mouth'. These meanings combined mean 'small mouths'. Nigripinne comes from the words 'nigrum' which means 'black', and 'pinna', which indicates the dark fins of breeding males.

Can we eat them?

No, we cannot eat blackfin darter fishes but there are some species of darter that are eaten by humans.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our black lancer catfish facts and skate fish facts pages. 

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable clownfish coloring pages.

* Please note that the main image is a Goldline darter that bears resemblance to the blackfin darter. If you have an image of a blackfin darter, please let us know at

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Written by Vineet Adnala

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Computer Engineering

Vineet Adnala picture

Vineet AdnalaBachelor of Engineering specializing in Computer Engineering

Vineet has a Bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Mumbai. With expertise in digital marketing, SEO, content creation, social media marketing, and content strategy. Vineet is also a talented painter and digital artist, with a passion for cooking, music, and football.

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Fact-checked by Gowri Rao

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gowri Rao picture

Gowri RaoBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

With a bachelor's degree in Economics from Krea University, Gowri is a highly skilled data analyst and an expert in regression and causation modeling. Her interests in economic trends, finance, and investment research complement her professional expertise. In addition to her professional pursuits, Gowri enjoys swimming, running, and playing the drums, and she is also a talented tutor.

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