Southern Redbelly Dace
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Southern Redbelly Dace 
HomeFeatured ProductsAquarium InformationNorth American Fish InfoSouthern Redbelly Dace

Southern Redbelly Dace
Phoxinus erythrogaster

This is a wild native  N orth American Freshwater Fish which may or may not be suitable for keeping in an aquarium. Information provided is strictly opinion in that respect. If you try to keep them in an aquarium, please do so with care, as wild fish are usually quite delicate and hard to keep in captivity.




Various areas across USA

Mature Length:

7,6 cm - 3 inches

Min. length aquarium:

120 cm - 48 inches

English name:

Southern Redbelly Dace

Ease of Keeping:


Ease of Breeding:


Note: Some states list this fish as an Endangered species. Check with local laws before acquiring this fish.

Southern redbelly dace prefer the headwaters of clear, rocky streams, with spring-fed pools. They are often commonly found near the sources of springs. They are  is distributed throughout the range from the southern Great Lakes and Mississippi River drainage, south to the Tennessee River drainage. Isolated populations are in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico.

The Southern redbelly dace is one of the most strikingly beautiful fish around. Its body is elongate and almost cylindrical. There are two distinguishing characteristics which set it apart from the other minnows. The scales are minute, almost requiring magnification to be seen. The coloration is unique. A cream-colored lateral band is layered between dark bands on the sides. The top dark band starts at the edge of the opercle and turns into a series of spots on the caudal peduncle. The lower band encircles the snout and ends in the basicaudal rays of the tail. Black dots appear along the back before the dorsal fin, and the mid-dorsal stripe may also appear as a series of dots. Males exhibit carmine splotches on the chest, chin, belly, and on the base of the dorsal fin, and their fins are bright yellow. Females vary from plain to washed with pink. The snout is blunt with a terminal mouth, in which the upper jaw slightly protrudes past the lower jaw. Presence of a barbel is unusual, but at least one population has been found which has barbels on each side of the jaw. There are from 65 to 90 scales along the incomplete lateral line. The pharyngeal formula is 5, 5, and the teeth are slender with slight hooks, and occasionally a pattern of 5, 4 may be present. The dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins contain 8 rays, and the pectorals have 14 or 15. The intestine is long, consisting of two coils and a loop with a black peritoneum.

The southern redbelly dace inhabits the clean, cool headwaters of small streams. It is a secretive fish seeking escape cover under overhanging banks or other structures. This fish is closely associated with permanent spring flows, which also provide micro-habitat for various scattered populations.

The Southern redbelly dace, Phoxinus erythrogaster, has been found spawning in a Wabaunsee Co. KS stream on a sunny afternoon in April. The water temperature of the stream was 64 degrees F. Dace were spawning in an area where, a few weeks earlier, male Stonerollers, Campostoma anomalum, c.f., were showing signs of nest building.

Spawning of Southern redbelly dace occurs from May through July over silt-free, gravel bottomed riffles. The nests of other stream minnows may be utilized for egg deposition. Spawning takes place in schools with 2 males usually accompanying a female. Egg deposits vary from 200 to over 6,000 eggs.

This fish is primarily a vegetarian feeding on plant material and bottom slime. Adults may reach 3 inches in length. These minnows are difficult to keep in an aquarium, but the effort is rewarded by the dazzling color display.

Keep at least 6 per tank. They really like stronger waterflows. Tank heaters not usually necessary and can wash out their colors. Can be aclimated away from live foods. Can live between 3 and four years.

The southern redbelly dace was originally listed in the genus Chrosomus, but it is currently in the genus Phoxinus, which links the native genus to the old world genus of the same name.







pH Range:
(If known)

6 -  

dKH Range:
(If known)


dGH Range:
(If known)



Swim Level:  Middle and Bottom


Water Movement: Fast Moving

Community tank.
Generally peaceful.

Generally aggressive.


Moderate to
bright light. 



Moderate to heavily planted tank.

Rock, or


Open sand or gravel. 

Active or
surface swimmer.

Likes hideaways and cover.

Live foods,


Plant matter and
bottom slime.

Southern Redbelly Dace - Phoxinus erythrogaster Southern Redbelly Dace - Phoxinus erythrogaster

Southern Redbelly Dace - Phoxinus erythrogaster

Breeding Colors

Southern Redbelly Dace - Phoxinus erythrogaster

Non-Breeding Colors

Southern Redbelly Dace - Phoxinus erythrogaster Southern Redbelly Dace - Phoxinus erythrogaster
Southern Redbelly Dace - Phoxinus erythrogaster Southern Redbelly Dace - Phoxinus erythrogaster

Southern Redbelly Dace - Phoxinus erythrogaster

Southern Redbelly Dace

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