© Bruce McNitt/Panoramic Images (Virginia)

Candy Darter


This species has 5 bold dark saddles crossing the back, two of these black dorsal saddles are on the caudal peduncle. 

There are 9-11 green vertical bars on the side, alternating with yellow-orange interspaces; head is dusky green with a light orange cheek; branchiostegal membranes are yellow to light orange; first dorsal fin is green with a yellow-orange margin; second dorsal, caudal, and pectoral fins are green with light orange spots; pelvic and anal fins are yellow. 

Breeding males have about 12 blue-green vertical bars along the side (and encircling the body on the caudal peduncle), alternating with orange interspaces; a stripe of red-orange covers the lower side behind the pectoral fin and part of the belly; breast is blue-green basally; other fins are dusky blue with red-orange spots. 

The general size of the species varies between a standard length of 60-85 mm, with a maximum known length of 86 mm.


The candy darter is endemic to the drainage of the New River, occupying the Valley and Ridge Province of Virginia and West Virginia and the Appalachian Plateau of West Virginia.


This species is an occupant of rocky riffles, appears to be most common in cool to cold sections of moderate to small streams, most frequently inhabits upland streams, but is also found in montane streams. They use clear cold to warm small streams. The adults occupy runs, riffles, and swift pockets.


This species consumes larvae of mayflies, caddisflies, and trueflies.

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NatureServe Explorer: Candy Darter

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