(White Sulphur Springs) Sot: According to Craig Bockholt at the White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery the candy darter fish is sometimes referred to as the “most beautiful freshwater fish in North America”.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife service, the only place this under three-inch fish can be found is streams and rivers in the West Virginia and Virginia.
In November 2017 the candy darter was put on the endangered species list. Non-native fish brought in through bait buckets are out competing the native candy darters.
Bockholt said, “The candy darters are mating with these variegated darters and they’re diluting the gene pool. So there’s less and less purebred pure strain candy darters out there.”
The White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery is working to rehabilitate the candy darter species. Bockholt said, “We’re trying not to put too many human interference in there. We’re just taking fish a male and a female letting them do their thing and go from there.”
The goal is to keep our rainbow-colored neighbors from extinction. Bockholt said, “The cool thing about it is they could be out in the stream and you don’t know it because they’re under a rock. They have very small territories they believe. So they could live in the same pool their whole life.”
If you see a candy darter when you’re out fishing, they say you can admire it but otherwise leave the fish alone.