Plants and Animals

Chrosomus erythrogaster Southern redbelly dace

Key Characteristics

The southern redbelly dace is a relatively small minnow with a reddish or yellow stripe that separates two dark lateral bands. This fish has a small mouth, small scales, and an incomplete lateral line. The fins of breeding males are bright yellow and the lateral colors brighten.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: E - Endangered (legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S1 - Critically imperiled


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Lenawee 4 2002
Livingston 1 1977
Monroe 1 1930
Washtenaw 7 1973

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Southern redbelly dace typically occur in clear, cool permanent headwaters. Preferred habitats are clear, spring-fed, wooded streams with small pools and adequate overhanging vegetation to provide ample shading of the stream. Undercut, vegetated banks are a critical habitat component during low water periods. Riffles with clean, gravel substrates are needed for spawning.

Specific Habitat Needs

Overhanging vegetation or roots needed in: Headwater stream (1st-2nd order), pool.

Natural Community Types

  • Headwater stream (1st-2nd order),¬†pool

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Southern redbelly dace are naturally distributed discontinuously throughout the landscape because of their habitat preference for cool, spring-fed streams, usually in headwater areas. This isolation makes local populations highly susceptible to extinction because losses due to local natural or human induced perturbation cannot be replaced by neighboring populations. Land clearing for human land uses, such as agriculture, urbanization and industrialization, have converted many cool, shaded and clear streams to warm, unshaded and turbid systems. Trautman (1981) reported that populations of dace in streams sampled prior to 1950 were extirpated due to channelization, treecutting and increased turbidity. Changes in the shade, temperature and oxygen regimes of these small streams as a result of land cover changes have converted them to unsuitable habitat for the southern redbelly dace.

Active Period

Spawning from first week of April to fourth week of June

Survey Methods


Survey Period: From first week of April to fourth week of September


Survey Period: From first week of April to fourth week of September


Survey References

  • Murphy, B.R. and D.W. Willis, eds. 1996. Fisheries Techniques, 2nd ed. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda. 732pp.

Technical References

  • Bailey, R.M., W.C. Latta, and G.R. Smith. 2004. An Atlas of Michigan Fishes. Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 192, Ann Arbor. 215p.
  • Evers, D.C. 1994. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of Michigan. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 412pp.
  • Page, L. M. and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes: North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432pp.
  • Settles, W.H. and R.D. Hoyt. 1978. The reproductive biology of the southern redbelly dace Chrosomus erythrogaster Rafinesque in a spring-fed stream in Kentucky. American Midland Naturalist 99(2): 290-298.
  • Stagliano, D.M. 2001. Special Animal Abstract for Phoxinus erythrogaster (Southern redbelly dace). Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 3pp.
  • Trautman, M.B. 1981. The Fishes of Ohio. Ohio State University Press, Columbus. 782pp.