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NORTHERN REDBELLY DACE


Photo courtesy of Konrad Schmidt

Northern redbelly dace - Common name
Phoxinus eos - Scientific name
Family - Cyprinidae (minnows)
Status : ST, S2, G5

IDENTIFICATION: This small (2 inches, 40-55 mm) species has a black, olive to dark brown back. It has two dark bands on its side. The lower band is darker and more noticeable than the upper. It is silver, cream-colored, to brilliant red (breeding males) below the lower dark band on its side and belly. Breeding fish have yellowish fins. The chin protrudes in front of the upper lip and the mouth is upturned.

SIMILAR SPECIES FOUND IN SOUTH DAKOTA: Southern redbelly dace . Northern redbelly dace have a more upturned mouth and shorter snout (approximately equal to the eye diameter). The chin of southern redbelly dace does not extend past the upper lip and the snout overhangs the mouth slightly. The snout of the southern redbelly dace is longer than the diameter of its eye. See the following diagram .

HABITS AND HABITAT: In South Dakota, the northern redbelly dace prefers spring-fed streams. They seem to prefer areas with beds of aquatic vegetation. Foods include algae, zooplankton, and immature aquatic insects. Fish spawn in mats of algae or aquatic plants, with males pursuing a female as she lays several to several dozen eggs. Eggs hatch in 8-10 days. Northern redbelly dace will hybridize with other similar species such as the finescale dace.

DISTRIBUTION: Distribution Map This species is widespread in the northern United States and Canada in boggy lakes, creeks, and ponds. It is often found in tea-colored, slightly acidic water. It is found in the Big Sioux, Minnesota, Niobrara and Crow Creek drainages in South Dakota, which forms the southwestern edge of the species distribution. Northern redbelly dace have recently been found in two spring-fed tributaries of the Big Sioux River drainage: Peg Munkey Run in Deuel County and Stray Horse Creek in Hamlin County. It was found in a tributary in the Sixmile Creek watershed and a tributary in the Deer Creek watershed in Brookings County, but has not been found here since 1952, and is believed to be extirpated from these watersheds. In the Minnesota River drainage the northern redbelly dace is found in four streams: Gary Creek, Monigan Creek also in Deuel County, and the north and south forks of the Yellow bank River, in Grant County.

CAUSES OF CONCERN AND CONSERVATION MEASURES: The northern redbelly dace is threatened by any activity adversely affecting the spring-fed streams it inhabits.

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