Discovery and naming
Steven Layman of Geosyntec Consultants and Rick Mayden of Saint Louis University studied the freshwater darters, most of which are native to Alabama and Tennessee in the United States. While they were studying color variation of Etheostoma stigmaeum, the speckled darter, Layman and Mayden discovered that there were populations with enough variation that they should be described as unique species.
This species was one of five distinct species of fish that were named after former U.S. presidents and a vice-president, based on their leadership in conservation. E. obama was named after Barack Obama, for his work "particularly in the areas of clean energy and environmental protection, and because he is one of our first leaders to approach conservation and environmental protection from a more global vision," according to Layman.
Etheostoma obama males have bright orange and iridescent blue speckles, stripes, and checked patterns, with a bright fan-shaped fin that has orange stripes. The males can reach up to 48 mm (1.9 in) long, while the females reach 43 mm (1.7 in) long. 29% of the studied fish had palatine teeth.
- Layman, Steven R.; Mayden, Richard L. (2012). "Morphological Diversity and Phylogenetics of the Darter Subgenus Doration (Percidae: Etheostoma), with Descriptions of Five New Species" (PDF). Bulletin of the Alabama Museum of Natural History. 30: 20–22.
- Crew, Becky (November 29, 2012). "All the Presidents' fish: Five new species named after Obama, Clinton, Roosevelt, Carter and Gore". Scientific American Blogs. Scientific American. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2014). "Etheostoma obama" in FishBase. February 2014 version.
- Goldenberg, Suzanne (November 29, 2012). "Spawned in the USA: new fish named after Barack Obama". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2012.