Rhinichthys atratulus
Blacknose Dace

Blacknose Dace

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The natural history of the northwoods



  • Rhinichthys, from the Greek, "snout fish"
  • atratulus, from the Greek, "wearing black", as for mourning
  • Common Name from the dark band which runs across its nose
  • Other common names include: brook minnow, dace, eastern blacknose dace, potbelly, redfin dace, slicker, striped dace, western blacknose dace


  • 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 Rhinichthys, the riffle daces


  • A small minnow of rivers and streams.
  • Length 2"-3", up to 4"
  • Coloration
    • olive-green, brownish to black above
    • darkened spots on the side giving a mottled appearance.
    • light beneath
    • peritoneum silvery colored
    • dark band, from which the fish acquires its common name, runs across the nose and down both lateral edges to the caudal peduncle.
    • dusky lateral band is outlined above by a row of light scales.
    • Spawning males develop a pink to red-colored lateral band.
  • Body
    • complete lateral line of 62-71 scales
    • dorsal and pelvic fins of 8 rays
    • anal fin of 7 rays
    • pectoral fins of 13-16 rays
  • Head
    • mouth sub-terminal; oblique with equal length jaws
    • barbel present on the posterior tip of the jaw
    • upper lip attached to the snout without a groove (a feature known as a frenulum), which is characteristic of Rhinicthys.
    • Hooked pharyngeal teeth in a 2, 4-4, 2 pattern.
  • Lifespan



  • Manitoba and North Dakota to Nova Scotia, south to Nebraska and North Carolina.


  • Prefers small streams


  • Largely aquatic insects and larvae, worms, and algae.



  • Sometimes used as bait and quite hardy.


  • Spawns late spring to early summer in riffles over gravel and rubble where both the male and female construct a nest of small pebbles. After spawning, little parental care is given the eggs.
  • Young range from 1½" to 2" in length by the end of the first season.



Boreal border

Last updated on 17 October 1999