The diamond darter was described as being a distinct species in 2008 by Stuart A. Welsh and Robert M. Wood. The diamond darter (formerly Elk River crystal darter) is identified in the West Virginia Wildlife Conservation Action Plan one of the species in greatest need of conservation action, and as a priority species in the (draft) NE Region Fisheries Program Strategic Plan. It has also been recognized by the Southeastern Fishes Council as one of the desperate dozen, twelve species of fish that will likely go extinct without action. The diamond darter is listed only as a “species of concern” by West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, and extirpated from rivers in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio. The diamond darter is now only found in the Elk River of the Kanawha River system in West Virginia. As of July 26, 2013 the diamond darter has been listed as an endangered species by the USFWS.
In 2008, three diamond darters were collected and transported to CFI. Attempts to spawn them in 2009 were not successful likely due to not having a mature pair. In the summer of 2009, two more individuals were collected from the Elk River and transported to CFI. In 2010 there were successful spawns and some fertile eggs that hatched, but larvae never survived past 10 days. Similar results were experienced in the spring of 2011. In the fall of 2011 we developed new collection methods and brought back 12 new breeders. Many eggs and larvae were produced in the spring of 2012, but again none of them survived past pelagic larval stage.
Examining the larvae under a scope showed that they had pretty big teeth, and therefore might be piscivorous.
The 2013 breeding efforts will be focused on trying to provide these larvae with larval options to feed on.