The Etowah darter is a small, percid fish (1.6-2.2 inch, adult size) that is moderately compressed laterally and has a moderately pointed snout with a terminal, obliquely angled mouth. The body ground shade is medium brown or grayish olive. The lower opercle and branchiostegal rays have a pale bluish-green wash which is intensified in nuptial males. The side is usually pigmented with 13 or 14 small dark blotches just below the lateral line. The breast in nuptial males is dark greenish blue. The spinous dorsal fin is suffused dusky black olive with a red margin. The soft dorsal and caudal fin have four bands. The pelvic fins are clear to dusky black with a pale green blue wash; pectoral fins are dusky black. The Etowah darter differs from the greenbreast darter (E. jordani), a species with which it has previously been confused, by the absence of red marks on the sides and anal fins of male specimens (Wood and Mayden 1993).
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