• Family: Cyprinidae (Minnows and Carps)
• Other Names: None
• Ohio Status: No special status
• Adult Size: Typically 3-4 inches, can reach 5 inches.
• Typical Foods: Flying insects and various aquatic invertebrates.
The redside dace is a strikingly colored fish with a distinctive wide red band on its sides. This band, which extends from just behind the eye to the front edge of the anal fin, is a light red or pink on non-breeding fish and a bright carmine red on breeding males. Unlike most minnow species the band is only slightly less intensely colored on breeding females. Above this band is a thin gold line which runs from the eye to the base of the tail. Above the gold line the back is dark olive brown to deep green. Below the red band the belly is white or light cream colored and the fins have no spots or other distinct markings. Redside dace have a relatively long narrow body with very small scales, a large eye, and a large distinctive upturned mouth. The closely related roseyside dace differs by having red or pink along the entire lower side with no distinct edge before reaching the belly and the red reaches beyond the front of the anal fin. Additionally rosyside dace have a smaller mouth, deeper body, and larger scales.
Habitat and Habits
The redside dace is an indicator of very high quality small streams. This species is intolerant of turbidity and silt. They are attracted to deep pools with an abundance of woody debris. The small streams they are found in typically have rather high gradients, very clear cool water, and are in primarily forested watersheds. This species is found primarily in the eastern half of the state with the exception of the Mad River in west central Ohio.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Redside dace spawn in groups in late April or early May. Like many smaller minnows species they usually spawn in the nest of larger minnows or suckers such as creek chub, striped shiners, common shiners, and common white suckers. These nests are found just above or just below fast riffles in course sand or fine gravel. They leave the eggs to be guarded by the larger species and provide no parental care.