Habitat/Living Conditions

The Johnny Darter is one of the most common of the darter species.  The Johnny Darter is found in a temperate climate in freshwater lakes, streams, and river biomes.  Johnny Darters are often called part of the benthic biome.  This means that they are found near the bottom part of the river, lake, or stream.  Normally this is only about a half of a meter deep.  These streams and rivers can vary in size.  When they are found in larger lakes and reservoirs, they are often found near the shores where they are in shallow water.  This can be near a rocky harbor break-wall or  near a beach.  The substrate is usually sandy or rocky but can also be found in silt or muddy conditions.  This normally occurs if the water is fast moving in the stream or river.  Otherwise they tend to stay near the rocky or sandy substrate where the water is slow moving near the bottom of the stream.  This is also their preferred place to spawn during spring.

A study on riffle dwelling darters compared to the Johnny Darter, which migrates to pools,  was done based on temperatures. Johnny Darters tend to migrate to pools in the substrate which have a higher temperature compared to riffle dwelling darters that tend to pick areas that are cooler in all seasons (Ingersol).  They do tend to reproduce around 12-24 degrees Celsius.

"Darters prey on insects and crustaceans, and in turn are preyed on by species such as smallmouth bass and walleyes" (Shiels).  This is what helps the darter occupy its certain niche.  Water quality is known to be good when darters are present in the stream or river.  This is because the ecosystem and habitat all work well together because darters are the "middle men" of the river.  They connect the habitat by feeding on smaller insects yet, feeding the larger fish in the stream.