Like most of the Etheostoma maculatum species group, the Bloodfin Darter has a fairly small range and patchy distribution. It is found in the southern reaches in KY and northern TN. Like most of the members of this species group the Bloodfin Darter prefers fast-flowing water, at the head of riffles, or even in riffles.
In 1993 the first Bloodfin Darters were collected from Big South Fork, KY. These fish were brought in to develop breeding protocols for working with the endangered Boulder Darter, E.wapiti. In 1994, the Bloodfin Darters successfully spawned using a tile crevice just like we use today for the Boulder Darters.