Slough Darters in the Trinity

It’s fishing season in Texas. Did you know that largemouth and white bass are not the only fish to catch in the Trinity River? The slough darter (Etheostoma gracile) is a small non-game fish that hangs out in the benthic layer of the water column. It does not have a swim bladder like most fish that swim freely in the water column. Because of this, the slough darter lies on the bottom and “hop-swims” from place to place to find food or hide from larger fish. It can be found in aquatic vegetation in shallow areas that have little to no moving water. The male slough darter body is tan with bright green vertical bars down both sides. The dorsal fin is all black with small red dots close to the top of the fin. The females are also tan but without the green vertical bar and with faint red dots on the dorsal fin. Whenever you are walking along the river, take a second to look down and see if you can find one of these darters hopping along the bottom.

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