Header image courtsey of Wisconsin DNR


Feeding Style

  As pointed out in a study by Jeff Scott Wesner (2010), the orangethroat darter (Etheostoma spectabile) is primarily an invertivore.  The term invertivore is used to classify organisms which feed on organisms lacking vertebrae (Fish Base, 2013). The orangethroat darter (Etheostoma spectabile), like many river and stream fish of North America, is a benthic species (Wesner, 2010).  Benthic is a term which refers to the plants, animals and other organisms which are found on the beds of rivers, streams or other bodies of water (Houghton, 169). Orangethroat darters find and eat small invertebrates by sifting and picking through the rocky, gravel based river bed, finding small organisms here and there (Vogt and Coon, 1990).  As David P. Gillette (2012) observed and reported in a study, after darters search for, locate, and consume their meals, the remainder of the digestive process is completed within a 24 hour time span.  

Illustration of Orangethroat darter by Joseph Tomelleri


  The orangethroat darter often preys on several families and varieties of mayflies and caddisflies (Gillette, 2012).  The orangethroat darter is also known to prey on members of the Dipteran family, which are a family of various flies, as well as seed shrimp who are members of class Ostracoda (Gillette, 2012).  Not only does the orangethroat darter feed on mature Dipertans, but the Dipertan larval stages as well.  In addition to Dipertan larvae, Ephemeropteran larvae and Trichopteran larval forms are often consumed by orangethroat darters as well (Gillette, 2012).

  To generalize by genus, many small darters in the genus Etheostoma feed on microcrustaceans, whereas larger darters eat diets consisting mostly of immature insects (Cordes and Page, 1980).



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