Ammocrypta pellucida
Eastern sand darter
Image of Ammocrypta pellucida

Photo by Rob Criswell 

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Key Characteristics

The eastern sand darter is a long (average of 6 cm), slender, pale, translucent darter. The dorsal fins are separated by a space about the size of the eye. The breast and belly are scaleless and the lateral line is complete. The upper part of the opercle is a sharply pointed spine.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • State Rank: S1S2
  • Global Rank: G4


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
St. Clair42010
Distribution map for Ammocrypta pellucida

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


The Eastern sand darter is found in streams and rivers with sandy substrates and lakes with sandy shoals. They are often found in slow moving waters where fine sand is deposited, often immediately downstream of a bend but can be found in faster waters (Daniels 1993).

Specific Habitat Needs

Sandy substrate needed in Mainstem Stream (3rd-4th order), Pool, Mainstem Stream (3rd-4th order), Run, River (5th-6th order), Pool, River (5th-6th order), Run, Inland Lake, Littoral, Benthic

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.


Siltation is a major threat to this species and has been a major factor in their decline. This species relies on shifting sand bars that naturally change over time and as such are reliant on natural sediment processes. Maintenance or establishment of vegetated riparian areas, natural flow regimes, and natural nutrient and sediment transport are critical to the protection of this species habitat.

Active Period

Spawning from first week of April to fourth week of June

Survey Methods

Sampling effort should be focused on sandy substrate habitats and areas should be worked slowly and thoroughly because this species spends much of its time burrowed in the sand.

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Sep 25, 2018]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract


Survey References

Technical References

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