Tennessee River Drainage

Pirate Perch (Aphredoderus sayanus)

Pirate Perch are distributed in Coastal Plain habitats from Texas to New York, including low-lying Mississippi River and Great Lakes drainages through the Midwest. They are most closely associated with backwater habitats with vegetation, including slow streams, oxbows, and swamps. The most unusual character of this species is the positioning of the anus directly behind the gills on the underside of the throat in adults, which migrates during development from a position just before the anal fin in juveniles.

Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)

The Brook Trout is widespread, stretching along the Appalachians and across western Canada. This is the only trout native to the southeastern United States, including the Tennessee River Drainage. They live in pools in small, cold streams with fast current. This is one of the few southeastern freshwater fishes that spawns in the fall. Breeding males develop bright red bellies and fins with golden spots on their sides and back.

Mountain Brook Lamprey (Ichthyomyzon greeleyi)

The Mountain Brook Lamprey has a fragmented distribution across the entire Ohio River basin from Alabama to New York. Adults are found in small upland streams with gravel substrates while larvae (ammocoetes) are found along river banks in soft substrate. Mountain Brook Lampreys are non-parasitic, meaning they do not have functional teeth on their oral disc and do not feed as adults.

Goldeye (Hiodon alosoides)

The Goldeye is found from the lower Mississippi River Drainage north to Arctic drainages in Canada. Construction of dams has greatly reduced the range of this migratory species in the Tennessee and Cumberland river drainages. They are found in open waters of medium to large rivers and tolerate turbidity. Goldeyes have a deep silvery body with a fleshy keel along their belly. As their common name suggests, Goldeyes have a golden iris.

Sharphead Darter (Etheostoma acuticeps)

The Sharphead Darter is restricted to the Nolichucky and Holston river systems in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia. As its name implies, this darter has an extremely pointed snout, like most other members of the subgenus Nothonotus. When this species was described in 1959, it was considered extinct because of the impoundment of South Holston Reservoir. It was later discovered in the Nolichucky River and rediscovered in the upper Holston River during surveys in 1967-1972. (Tile photo by Noel Burkhead)

Mud Darter (Etheostoma asprigene)

The Mud Darter is a widespread species found from the Coastal Plain in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi north through the Mississippi Embayment to Wisconsin and Minnesota. They inhabit slow-flowing riffles that are over rocks and debris. This species has five to six dark vertical bars on the back of their body.

American Eel (Anguilla rostrata)

The American Eel is found across much of eastern North America from Newfoundland to Texas and south to South America. While they live in streams and rivers for most of their lives, they migrate as adults into the Atlantic Ocean where they spawn and die. Larvae are moved by ocean currents back to shoreline habitats where they migrate back up into rivers. American Eels have a snake-like body with a long dorsal fin and can be distinguished from Lampreys by their jaws.

Laurel Dace (Chrosomus saylori)

Historically known from only eight streams on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, this federally endangered species has recently faced dramatic range reduction from poor agricultural practices. Like other members of the Redbelly Dace group, male Laurel Dace develop bright breeding colors in the early spring with yellow fins and red bellies.

White Sucker (Catostomus commersonii)

The White Sucker is found across middle and northern North America, including the Tennessee and Cumberland river drainages. They live in many different habitats, though predominately in smaller streams and rivers. The White Sucker has small scales and a rounded body.

Highfin Carpsucker (Carpiodes velifer)

The Highfin Carpsucker is widespread in the Mississippi River Drainage as well as southeastern Gulf and Atlantic Slope drainages. They live in many different habitats, though predominately large rivers. As their common name suggests, the Highfin Carpsucker has a long and highly curved dorsal fin which is adapted for life in large rivers.