Southern Redbelly Dace

Phoxinus erythrogaster


Image of a southern redbelly dace
Joseph R. Tomelleri. Used with permission.

Cyprinidae (minnows) in the order Cypriniformes (carps, minnows and loaches)


Slender minnow with two dusky stripes separated by a broad golden or yellowish stripe along the side. Olive-brown back with scattered dark spots, and a white belly. Scales are very small, barely visible to the naked eye. Breeding males are brilliant red on undersurface of head and body with lower fin and undersurface near tail lemon yellow.


Total length: 1 1/2 to 2 3/4 inches; maximum length 3 inches.

Habitat and conservation

Small creeks and spring branches of the Ozarks where there is permanent flow of cool, clear water and a gravelly or sandy bottom. Often school with other minnows such as stonerollers and creek chubs.


Herbivorous, feeding primarily on algae and detritus with larval insects in lesser quantities.

image of Southern Redbelly Dace distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

One of the characteristic fishes of the Ozarks. Also occurs in northeastern Missouri, where its range extends northward into the prairie region in hills bordering the upper Mississippi River.

Life cycle

Individuals rarely live more than two years.

Human connections

Dazzling breeding colors and a gentle disposition make the southern redbelly dace an excellent aquarium fish.