Phoxinus neogaeus
Finescale Dace

Finescale Dace

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



  • Phoxinus, from the Greek, a name of a fish
  • neogaeus, from the Greek, "new world"
  • Common name
  • Other common names include:


  • 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 2½" to a maximum of 5"
  • Coloration
    • dark brown back
    • greenish sides
    • whitish below
    • dark lateral line extends from the snout along the side, ending at a distinct spot at the base of the tail
    • bright yellow to red underside in breeding males
  • Body
  • Head
    • large mouth
  • Lifespan


  • Distinguished from the closely related Northern Redbelly Dace by its lateral line, larger size, and relatively larger mouth.


  • Glaciated regions of southern Canada and northern US, with isolated populations in South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming.


  • Bog ponds, streams, and lakes.
  • In northern Minnesota, commonly found in association with the Brook Stickleback (Culaea inconstans), Pearl Dace (Semotilus margarita), and Northern Redbelly Dace (Phoxinus eos), hybridizing with the last named species.


  • Insects, crustaceans, and plankton.
  • In northern Minnesota, tiny clams a common part of diet.



  • A hardy fish sold as bait in Minnesota and Canada.


  • Spawns from April to June, as soon as ice is off northern bogs and streams.
  • Eggs deposited under logs and debris, hatching in 4 days.
  • Known to hybridize with the Northern Redbelly Dace (Phoxinus eos), 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 17 October 1999