Missouri Trawler

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Published on: Dec. 13, 2012

from Locust Creek.

This is a small fish usually less than 5 inches long. Little is known about its habits and life history in Missouri. It probably spawns in March along the edges of streams in shallow water. It eats aquatic insects and other small invertebrates. It is known to move from deep water during the day to shallow water to feed at night. Trawling has been very effective in sampling this species. We have documented trout-perch at depths of 30-60 feet during daylight hours in various parts of its range.

Cystal Darter (Crystallaria asprella)

This species gets its name because it is found in clear streams with clean sand and gravel and because it is well camouflaged by its color and markings; it appears as crystalline as the quartz sand deposits in which it is found.

The crystal darter is found in moderately large rivers from Minnesota to Louisiana and from Alabama to Indiana. It is considered to be uncommon to rare over most of its range. An eastern form found in the Upper Ohio and Cumberland rivers of Tennessee and Kentucky has been described as a new species, diamond darter (C. cincotta),

and it has been presumably extirpated from most of its range except in the Elk

River, West Virginia. In Missouri, crystal darters are found in the Gasconade and Meramec rivers in the northern part of its range and in the Black, and St. Francis rivers to the south. It is no longer thought to exist in the Floodway ditch system in the south.

The crystal darter is slender with a pale-yellow body and four or five brownish crossbars. The sides have several oblong dull blotches. The belly is white. This is a large darter that can be up to 7 inches long. Little is known about its habits and life history in Missouri. It probably breeds in late winter or early spring. It grows quickly; up to 6 inches long at the end of the second year of life. Food items include immature insects, especially midges, blackflies, and caddisflies.

Prior to the development of the Missouri Trawl, data suggested that this species was rapidly disappearing from Missouri. It was last collected from the St. Francis River and Floodway ditches in 1964. By the late 1970s, it was no longer seen from the Meramec River. Extant populations were known only from the Gasconade and Black rivers. However, trawling since 2000 has yielded many specimens in the Meramec, Gasconade, and Black rivers. Crystal darters observed in aquaria will bury into sand with only their eyes exposed. This was presumed by scientists but had not previously been documented.

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