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The Southern Redbelly Dace is one of the most strikingly beautiful fish in Iowa. A cream colored lateral band is layered between dark bands on the sides. A top dark band starts at the edge of the gill cover and turns into a series of spots at the base of the tail. The lower band encircles the snout and ends in 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. Its scales are minute.
Distributed throughout the upper portions of the Winnebago, Shellrock, Wapsipinicon, Turkey, Maquoketa, and Misssissippi rivers in northeast Iowa. Scattered populations exist in northwest, central, and east-central streams.
plant material and detritus
The Southern Redbelly Dace is distributed throughout the upper portions of the Winnebego, Shellrock, Wapsipinicon, Turkey, Maquoketa, and Mississippi rivers in northeast Iowa. There are scattered populations in northwest, central and east-central streams. It is common to abundant where there is suitable habitat.
The Southern Redbelly Dace is one of the most strikingly beautiful fish in the Iowa fauna. 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. There are black dots along the back before the dorsal fin, and the mid-dorsal stripe may also look like a series of dots. Males have 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 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 have 8 rays, and the pectorals have 14 or 15. The intestine is long, with two coils and a loop with a black peritoneum.
The Southern Redbelly Dace lives in 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 the scattered populations away from northeast Iowa.
Spawning of southern redbelly dace occurs from May through July over silt-free, gravel bottomed riffles. The nests of other stream minnows may be used for egg deposition. Spawning takes place in schools with 2 males usually accompanying a female. Fecundity varies from 200 to over 6,000 eggs. This fish is primarily a vegetarian eating 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.
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.