Blacknose Dace

Blacknose Dace, illustration by Maynard Reece, from Iowa Fish and Fishing.


Brownish to black above, and speckled sides with dark scales giving the fish a mottled appearance. A dusky lateral band is outlined above by a row of light scales. Spawning males develop a pink to red-colored lateral band. The sub-terminal mouth is oblique with equal jaws, and a barbell is on the posterior tip of the mandible. The upper lip is attached to the snout without a groove (a feature know as a frenulum), which is characteristic of Rhinicthys. There are 62 to 71 scales in the complete lateral line. Hooked pharyngeal teeth are arranged in a formula of 2, 4-4, 2. The peritoneum is silvery colored, and the air bladder is well developed. Dorsal and pelvic fins have 8 rays, while the anal fin has 7, and the pectoral fins have 13 to 16 rays.


Blacknose Dace Distribution

The Blacknose Dace is common throughout central and northeast Iowa, with scattered populations also found in the Little Sioux River, Big Sioux River, Rock River and Floyd River drainages. It is absent from southeast Iowa. The distribution of the Blacknose Dace in Iowa is increasing, especially in the river networks in northeast Iowa (Eastern Broadleaf Forest Aquatic Subregion).


Aquatic insects and larvae.

State Record

Grows up to 4 inches. State Records are not documented for non-game species.

Expert Tip

Blacknose Dace are sometimes called the "riffle daces" because they prefer clear waters with swift currents over a rocky substrate, which explains their thriving in Iowa's trout streams.


Spawning takes place from May through July, when males build a nest of gravel and guard a well-defined territory. Eggs are 1/6 to 1/8 inch in diameter. Young Blacknose Dace range are 1 1/2- to 2-inches long by the end of the first season. Adults reach up to 4 inches long. 

The Blacknose Dace was first listed as the Western Blacknose Dace (Rhinichthys Atratulas Meleagris), which is probably the correct interpretation for this minnow in Iowa.

The Blacknose Dace prefers clear, cool headwater and medium-sized streams over gravel bottoms. It is common in moderate to fast flowing water and appear to reach its greatest abundance in trout streams such as in northeast Iowa.

The Blacknose Dace has a growing population and is viewed as secure according to the Iowa Wildlife Action Plan.

Recent stream sampling information is available from Iowa DNR's biological monitoring and assessment program.


Harlan, J.R., E.B. Speaker, and J. Mayhew. 1987. Iowa fish and fishing. Iowa Conservation Commission, Des Moines, Iowa. 323pp.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Wildlife Action Plan

Loan-Wilsey, A. K., C. L. Pierce, K. L. Kane, P. D. Brown and R. L. McNeely. 2005. The Iowa Aquatic Gap Analysis Project Final Report. Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Iowa State University, Ames

Illustration by Maynard Reece, from Iowa Fish and Fishing

Present in these Iowa water bodies:
Lake/Stream County Location Acres/Length
Paint Creek Allamakee Located in Yellow River State Forest, 3 miles west of Harpers Ferry off of State Forest Road or CR B25. 11.00
Maquoketa River (trout portion) Clayton The Upper Maquoketa River from Joy Springs downstream to Backbone Lake contains trout year-round. The area 3 miles southwest of Strawberry Point off 400th is stocked with catchable fish. 8.00
South Bear Creek Winneshiek Located at Highlandville. 5.20
Little Turkey River (put and grow) Delaware 4 miles east of Colesburg off Hubbard Road 3.20
Coon Creek Winneshiek Located in Coon Creek Wildlife Management Area, 7 miles northeast of Decorah. 2.60
Wapsi River Trout Section Mitchell Located 0.5 mile west of McIntire. 2.50
Otter Creek Fayette Located 3 miles southeast of West Union. 2.50
McLoud Run Linn Along the east side of I-380 in central Cedar Rapids 2.50
Pine Creek Allamakee Located on Pine Creek Wildlife Management Area, 2 miles northeast of Sattre on Balsam Road or CR W60. 2.50
Fountain Springs Delaware 2.5 miles northeast of Greeley along Oak Road. Most of the fishery lies within Fountain Springs County Park 2.30
Turtle Creek Mitchell Located about 1/2 mile north of St. Ansgar off of Highway 218. 2.20
Upper Swiss Valley Creek Dubuque Located 3 miles south of Dubuque near Swiss Valley Nature Center, just off Swiss Valley Road 2.10
Clear Creek Allamakee Stream runs along Highway 9 through Lansing. Public angling access is at the County Park located off South Road Drive. 2.00
Burr Oak Creek Mitchell Stream located just north of Osage. T98N, R16W, S4, 5, 9, 10 2.00
Brush Creek Jackson Located 2 miles northeast of Andrew just south of 261st street. 1.90
White Pine Hollow Dubuque This fishery is located primarily within White Pine Hollow State preserve, about 2 miles northwest of Luxemburg. Access to this fishery is difficult. A small parking area is available on the east side of the preserve. Best fishing is on the west side. 1.80
Richmond Springs Delaware 3 miles south of Strawberry Point. Located entirely within Backbone State Park. Closest to north park gate access. 1.40
Hewett and Ensign Creeks (Ensign Hollow) Clayton Located on Ensign Hollow Wildlife Management Area about 5 miles north of Strawberry Point. Access is provided on the north side of 322nd street. 1.30
Grimes Hollow Delaware 1.5 mile east of Colesburg off Hubbard Road. T90N-R3W; Sections 2, 3. 1.20
Little Turkey River Delaware 3 miles east of Colesburg in Hoffman Wildlife Managment Area off Hubbard Road 1.20
Tete des Morts River Jackson Located near St. Donatus. T87N, R3E, S4 1.10
Turner Creek Fayette Located near St. Lucas and empties into the Turkey River. 1.09
Ram Hollow Delaware 1.00
Mink Creek Fayette Located on private property 1.5 miles north of Wadena, access on Bighorn Road. 0.90
Twin Bridges Delaware Just south of Highway 3 about 5.5 miles west of Colesburg in Twin Bridges County Park 0.90
Joy Springs Clayton South on Alpha Ave, off Highway 3 about 3 miles west of Strawberry Point in Joy Springs County Park. 0.80
Miners Creek Clayton Stream is located west of Guttenberg. T92N, R2W, S7, 18 and T29N, R3W, S12 0.80
Lower Swiss Valley Creek Dubuque Located 3 miles south of Dubuque in Swiss Valley Park just off Swiss Valley Road 0.80
Spring Creek Mitchell Located on the west edge of Orchard. 0.80
Little Mill Creek Jackson Located on Little Mill Wildlife Managment Area and private property 2 miles west of Bellevue, with parking south off 216th street. 0.70
Ozark Springs Jackson T86N - R1E; Section 32 0.70
Bigalk Creek Howard Located 7 miles northeast of Cresco. 0.60
Baileys Ford Delaware 3 miles southeast of Manchester - follow signage from Jefferson Road. 0.60
Bankston Creek Dubuque Just south of Park Hollow Road, 3 miles north of Bankston in Bankston County Park 0.60
Mossy Glen Clayton 5 miles northwest of Edgewood at the termination of the Level B portion of Eagle Ave. Road damage from weather has made access to this site difficult for all vehicles. Not recommended for low-clearance or 2-wheel drives. 0.50
South Cedar Creek Clayton Located 2 miles south of Garnavillo and may be accessed from Jigsaw Road. 0.50
Bohemian Creek Winneshiek Located about 1.5 miles east of Protivin. 0.30
Monastery Creek Dubuque Monastery Creek can be accessed through the Dubuque County Swiss Valley Nature Preserve about 4 miles SW of Dubuque off of Swiss Valley Rd. 0.20