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Photo courtesy of Konrad Schmidt

Southern redbelly dace - Common name
Phoxinus erythrogaster - Scientific name
Family - Cyprinidae (minnows)
Status : S1, G5


IDENTIFICATION: This dace can grow up to 3.5 inches (91 mm). It has an olive-brown back, silver-yellow side, and white, yellow, or red belly. It has a wedge-shaped spot at the base of the tail and has two black stripes along its side. The upper stripe is less prominent than the lower stripe and is broken into spots near the tail end. The lower stripe extends through the snout. Breeding adults have a bright red belly and yellow fins. The snout of the southern redbelly dace is moderately pointed and slightly overhangs its mouth.

SIMILAR SPECIES FOUND IN SOUTH DAKOTA: Northern Redbelly Dace . Northern redbelly dace have a more rounded and shorter snout than southern redbelly dace. The length of the snout of the northern redbelly dace is approximately equal to its eye diameter, whereas the southern redbelly dace has a snout that is longer than the diameter of its eye. Unlike southern redbelly dace, the chin extends past the upper lip in northern redbelly dace. The snout of the southern redbelly dace extends slightly over its mouth. See the following diagram .

HABITS AND HABITAT: Southern redbelly dace prefer spring-fed pools of headwaters and small creeks with substrates of sand, gravel, or mud. The southern redbelly dace primarily feeds on algae but can also include small invertebrates, such as water fleas and insects, in its diet. Fish spawn in gravel areas in small streams with one or two males stimulating the female to shed eggs.

DISTRIBUTION: Distribution Map The center of the southern redbelly dace distribution is in the Ozarks, Missouri. The distribution ranges from Minnesota to as far south as New Mexico, and from New York to as far east as Colorado. Southern redbelly dace are very rare in South Dakota and so far have only been found in two streams in the state. One stream is a small unnamed tributary to the Big Sioux River near the city of Sioux Falls in Minnehaha County. The other stream is the Little Beaver Creek in Lincoln County near the city of Canton .

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

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