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Robyn's Southern Redbelly Dace Page

Last Updated: 2/28/14

The last Southern redbelly dace pulled from my 153 gallon pond during cleaning on 4/2/03. He was returned to the pond after the photo.

I have recently obtained some Southern redbelly dace and so there is little information on this site. All of the following information comes from books and internet sources. If you have any information on redbelly dace, please send it to me. In the cases where I state "unknown," it means that I do not know but others may know. Also, please let me know if any of this information is incorrect or if you can add to it.

Quick Information
Setup and Water Preferences
My Southern Redbelly Dace
Links and Pictures

Quick Information

Common name: Southern redbelly dace, Southern red-bellied dace
Scientific/Latin names: Phoxinus erythrogaster
Maximum length: 2 to 3 inches
Colors: Olive with black and yellow stripes, white belly
Temperature preference: Unknown
pH preference: Unknown
Hardness preference: Unknown, probably soft to moderate
Salinity preference: Unknown, probably low
Compatibility: Unknown, probably good
Life span: Unknown
Ease of keeping: Unknown (said to be difficult in an aquarium)
Ease of breeding: Unknown


There are many species of dace including the blacknose, longnose, redbelly, pearl, redside, rosyside, and Tennessee dace.

The redbelly dace comes in Northern (Chrosomus eos), Southern (Phoxinus erythrogaster), and Mountain species. All can be adapted to aquarium or pond life.

The Southern redbelly dace is olive colored with two black stripes down its body and a yellow stripe in the middle of them. Its belly is white. Black dots appear on the back (the first thing I noticed about my fish). Breeding males develop red underbodies, yellow fins, and tubercles. The scales of the Southern redbelly dace are very small.

The Southern redbelly dace grows up to 3 inches and feeds on algae and plant debris as do the other two species of redbelly dace.

Setup and Water Preferences

Southern redbelly dace like clear, moving water of vegetated streams. They are often found at headwaters or springs. They are shy fish that require places to hide, ideally vegetation in and above the water. Moving water is required for breeding.


Breeding males develop red underbodies, yellow fins, and tubercles. They get red on their chest, chin, belly, and the base of the dorsal fin.


Southern redbelly dace are continual egg scatterers that like to breed at around 70 to 75 degrees F with a strong current. They breed over gravel beds in moving water or near substrate spawning minnows. Often, two males will spawn with a single female who lays a few hundred to a few thousand eggs. Southern redbelly dace are riffle spawners. Fry hatch in about six days. See the fourth link below for one aquarist's success at spawning Southern redbelly dace.

My Southern Redbelly Dace

Two male Southern redbelly dace and an unknown fish at the top (has to be Southern redbelly dace, red shiner, Ozark minnow, or bluntnose minnow) on 3/29/02 during 153 gallon pond cleaning.

Seven Southern redbelly dace were added to my 153 gallon pond on 9/28/00. On 10/1/00, one was found desiccated on the edging. I guess he/she wanted to swim upstream! When the pond was cleaned out on 3/26/01, all or most of the redbelly dace were still there! I have not seen any since (as of 11/13/01) since they hide so well and are well camouflaged in my two-foot deep pond where the water is dark/black. I cleaned out the pond on 3/29/02. There were only seven live fish left (and two dead ones). Three were large, adult Southern redbelly dace with beautiful yellow fins. These were big fish. I took photos on regular film but it will be a long time before I develop the photos to see if they worked since it is a new roll of film (I finally got the best photo on here on 5/31/03 above!). The other four fish were babies from last spring that I had seen when young. Then, I thought they were red shiners. Considering there were no adult red shiners left, and the babies' pectoral fins are long and flowing like the adult dace, I am pretty sure that the four young fish are baby Southern redbelly dace! Of the five kinds of native fish I put in this pond, I would never have expected these guys to be the only ones to breed and survive! They are not even native to my area, are supposed to be harder to keep and breed, and I did not add as many of them as the other fish. I guess they like my pond! Now, they have it all to themselves, except for the frogs, tadpoles, snails, and insects.

On 4/2/03, I cleaned out my 153 gallon pond. There were three live fish. For sure, just one was an adult Southern redbelly dace. The other two were red shiners so those must have been the babies from last year. This one large adult was gorgeous. I took photos to develop later. The best one is at the top of this page. I just wish he had a mate!

On 3/29/04, I cleaned out the pond again. The Southern redbelly dace was still there! So were the two shiners. Hurray! Below are photos of my one dace!

Southern redbelly dace - right side.
Southern redbelly dace - right side, same fish.

On 3/25/05, I cleaned the 153 gallon pond out, and that one remaining Southern redbelly dace is still alive! Horray! I wish he had some buddies though. He is so pretty.

On 3/30/06, I cleaned out the 153 gallon pond. See this page for details. I was absolutely stunned to find that my Southern redbelly dace is still alive! I did not take a photo this year. This fish is six years old! Wow!

On 3/29/07, I cleaned out the 153 gallon pond. I had seen a dark fish swimming in it a few weeks ago, assumed it was the dace, and was surprised. I was saddened this day to find the dace. He was deceased. Even in death, he was gorgeous. I had him for 6.5 years so he was at least 7 years old! That assumes the original dace never bred (of which I am pretty sure). I took his photo one last time.

Dead male Southern redbelly dace - 3/29/07, RIP

Links and Pictures

Southern Redbelly Dace - information (Iowa DNR)

Southern Redbelly Dace - information; this site may no longer work, if you know what happened, please e-mail me.

Southern Redbelly Dace - photo

Spawning of Southern and Northern Redbelly Dace Compared - information on breeding Southern and Northern redbelly dace.

Northern and Southern Redbelly dace - the Colorado Division of Wildlife, photo and few sentences of information

North American Native Fishes Association

Native Fish Conservancy - I am a member since 10/99

North American Freshwater Fishes

The Native Fish Web Ring

Four photos of my Southern redbelly dace can be seen on this page or click below:
3/29/07 - deceased

Ash sent this photo of a fish from Southern California on 11/6/07. She thought it was a redbelly dace but I do not think so. I was not able to identify it using my native fish books. Do you know what it is?

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