In efforts to develop propagation methods for the Pearl Darter, we collected its close relative the Channel Darter as a surrogate species. The Channel Darters substrate preferences include sand, gravel or rock. This fish has also been found in lakes along sand and gravel beaches where wave action is gentle and the current slow. At CFI these fish were late winter early spring spawners, temperatures at this time are just starting to get over 50 F in the hatchery.
In the fall of 1997 a breeding group of Channel Darters were collected from the Big South Fork, Cumberland River. These fish were used for breeding in both 1998 and 1999 with limited success (only a few individuals were produced each year). Much was learned about using this species as a surrogate for the Pearl Darter that CFI has subsequently applied to the rearing of many different darters that have pelagic larvae. The rearing of this species and the Goldline Darter lead to the discovery that the containers the larvae are reared in are very critical to the proper foraging and orientation behavior in the larvae. We now use exclusively black tubs to rear pelagic darter larvae! We hope to one day have another chance to work with the Pearl Darter based on our experience with the Channel Darters and Pearl Darters.