Endangered Species Day: The candy darter

The small fish lives in the New River Watershed

The candy darter has been on the endangered species list since 2018. The brightly colored fish lives in the watershed of the New, Gauley and Greenbrier rivers.

It is usually found in fast, clear water in the streams that flow out of the surrounding mountains.

The candy darter requires a clean stream bottom where it feeds on small aquatic insects such as mayflies and caddis nymphs. In the immediate Roanoke region, the fish can be found in several small creeks in Giles County.

The candy darter is also threatened by several similar species which have been introduced into their habitat. Because they are so similar there is a fear that the fish will hybridize and cease to exist as a species.

According the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website, candy darters do not occur anywhere else in the world. Development and lumbering activities that can cause sediment to flow into the stream are the biggest threats.

About the Author

John Carlin co-anchors the 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts on WSLS 10.

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