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Tangerine darters have been successfully reintroduced back into the Pigeon River downstream of the paper mill.In general, the tangerine darter has a wide range, has a large number of subpopulations and a large total population size, and no major threats have been identified, so the International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified its conservation status as being of "least concern".
In 1908, Champion International built a paper mill on the little pigeon river and decimated many of the native fish.
In the 1980s the mill cleaned up its refuse and the river is steadily getting better.
The tangerine darter is found throughout mountainous regions of the upper Tennessee River drainage.
It resides in smaller rivers and is most common in the Emory, Hiwassee, Little, Little Pigeon, and Tellico rivers.
This is due to point and nonpoint pollution, erosion and sedimentation.
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On the Pigeon River in East Tennessee, tangerine darter populations declined and recovered.While doing this both the male and female make a quivering motion.Females choose the most brightly colored males (bright orange black line with some blue where orange meets the black). Juvenile tangerine darters are found in calmer water and grow to between 2 and 3 inches (5.1 and 7.6 cm) in their first year of growth. Juveniles feed primarily on mayflies and midges, and adults feed on mayflies and caddisflies.Pollution and habitat degradation may be a problem in parts of its range, however it is a fairly common fish with a wide range and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified its conservation status as being of "least concern". The males are usually a bright orangish-red color, more elaborately colored than the females, which are yellow.They are a fairly common species; however, their range is limited to clear, cool streams of the southern Appalachian Mountains.The life span of the tangerine darter is about four years.Tangerine darters spawn by first the male mounting the female; the female then scatters her eggs over the gravel, while the male disperses milt and fertilizes the eggs.Males also become territorial during mating season and will defend their spawning riffles. Tangerine darters get their food by searching through the aquatic vegetation and eating the aquatic insects off of the plants.Adults are also big enough to roll small gravel in search of prey.The tangerine darter or river slick (Percina aurantiaca) is a small freshwater ray-finned fish in the perch family found in the eastern United States.It grows to a length of 4.3 to 7.1 inches (11 to 18 cm), males being bright orange-red while females are yellow.