Phoxinus eos
Northern Redbelly Dace

Northern Redbelly Dace

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods



  • Phoxinus, from the Greek, a name of a fish
  • eos, from the Greek, "dawn"
  • Common Name from the dark red belly of breeding males, and its northern range


  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Chordata, animals with a spinal chord
    • Subphylum Vertebrata, animals with a backbone
      • Superclass Osteichthyes, bony fishes
      • Class Actinopterygii, ray-finned and spiny rayed fishes
      • Subclass Neopterygii
      • Infraclass Teleostei
        • Superorder Ostariophysi
        • Order Cypriniformes, minnows and suckers
        • Family Cyprinidae, carps and minnows
          • Genus Phoxinus, the redbelly daces


  • A small minnow of cool, acidic northern waters
  • Length 2"
  • Coloration
    • black, olive to dark brown back
    • silver, cream below the dark band on its side; brilliant red in breeding males
    • breeding fish have yellowish fins
  • Body
  • Head
    • snout short and blunt
  • Lifespan
    • matures in second or third summer
    • lives at least 3 years



  • British Columbia and the Northwest Territories across southern Canada to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and across the northern and north-central US from New York and Pennsylvania to Michigan, Wisconsin, and northern Minnesota.


  • Boggy lakes, creeks, and ponds.
  • Often found in cool, dark, tea-colored, and slightly acidic waters of northern bogs.
  • Prefers the slow parts of streams; only occasionally found in moderate current.


  • Much plant material, including diatoms and filamentous algae, as well as zooplankton, aquatic insects, and occasionally fish.




  • Spawns in spring and early summer, with at least some females spawning twice a year.
  • Spawning takes place on clumps of filamentous algae. A female accompanied by one or more males darts from one algal mass to another with a spawning embrace of 2 to 4 seconds at each one. During each spawning episode, 5 to 30 non-adhesive eggs are released and become entangled in the algal filaments. The eggs hatch in 8-10 days at 70º to 80º F.
  • Known to hybridize with the Finescale Dace (Phoxinus neogaeus), producing fertile, yet always female, offspring. These hybrids can be more common in some bogs of northern Minnesota than either parent. Go figure...


  • A true northern species, near the southern end of its range in the BWCA.


Boreal border

Last updated on 15 October 1999