SOUTHERN REDBELLY DACE
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Phoxinus erythrogaster
CHARACTERISTICS: The southern redbelly dace is one of Alabama"s most beautiful minnows. The body is covered with tiny scales that number 70 to 95 in the lateral series and are so small as to be almost invisible to the unaided eye. The snout is pointed. Two lateral bands occur along either side of the body. The lower band is broad and dusky, extending from the eye to the caudal fin. The upper band is smaller, thinning to a series of small spots and extending from the gill opening to the caudal peduncle. A small, black, wedge-shaped spot marks the base of the caudal fin. In life, the back is olive brown with scattered black dots, and breeding males are bright red along the venter from the snout to the base of the tail. The dorsal fin base is red, and all the fins are bright yellow, with the paired fins developing a white base. A silver-white crescent borders the bottom of the eye. Females are similarly colored, with more subdued yellow in the fins and an absence of red along the venter.
ADULT SIZE: 2 to 3 in (50 to 75 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: Phoxinus erythrogaster is found in the upper Mississippi basin and Great Lakes drainages from Minnesota and Pennsylvania south to Arkansas and Alabama. In Alabama this species is known only from the Tennessee River drainage in the northwestern part of the state.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The southern redbelly dace prefers cool, upland, spring-fed streams with gravel and hard sand substrates with little silt. It is frequently found in small pools 1 to 3 feet deep and is often associated with aquatic vegetation. The diet consists of plant material, algae, and invertebrates. Spawning occurs in gravel riffles or over gravel nest of Campostoma or Nocomis. Reproduction is reported to occur from April through June in Kentucky (Settles and Hoyt, 1978), and individuals in nuptial color have been observed in April and May in the Cypress Creek System, Lauderdale County. Smith (1908) reports that eggs are released near the substrate and settle on the bottom or on nearby objects.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: The southern redbelly dace was described by Rafinesque in 1820.
Phoxinus means tapering, referring to this species' body shape.
Erythrogaster means red belly.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.