Family: Percidae, Perches and Darters view all from this family
Description The snail darter (Percina tanasi) is a small (up to 9 cm long), rare fish found in the waters of East Tennessee. It is a variety of darter which feeds primarily on aquatic snails.
The snail darter was initially native only to the Little Tennessee River. It was discovered in 1973, and subsequently was at the center of a legal controversy in which construction of the Tellico Dam was delayed due to concerns that it would extirpate the species. The snail darter was declared an endangered species in 1975 under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973; this halted construction of the dam for two years, until an amendment to the Act officially exempted Tellico. The snail darter was later introduced successfully to the Hiwassee River. On July 5, 1984, its status was lowered to threatened.
Dimensions Up to 3" (7.5 cm).
Endangered Status The Snail Darter is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as threatened throughout its range in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. This little fish became the focus of a legal controversy in 1977 when its status as an endangered species delayed construction of Tellico Dam in the Tennessee Valley. Congress eventually passed legislation exempting that dam project from the Endangered Species Act. The dam was built, and the darterís habitat there was completely destroyed. The controversy, however, activated studies and reintroduction efforts, and new populations of the fish were discovered, and others were established. In 1984, the species was downlisted from endangered to threatened.
Habitat Rivers & streams.