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Northern redbelly dace illustration

Northern Redbelly Dace

North Dakota Species of Conservation Priority II

Fact Sheet
Scientific Name Chrosomus eos
General Description Member of the minnow family. Up to 3.5 inches in length. Dark dorsally, with two black lines that run along its side. The upper line is thin and breaks into spots at the tail. The lower line continues the length of the fish. Belly is red, white, yellow or a combination of the three.
Status Year-round resident.
Abundance Uncommon.
Primary Habitat Prefers slower moving stretches of rivers with clear water over silt bottoms. Vegetation is usually found in close proximity. Found to a lesser extent in pools and impoundments.
Federal Status None.
Reason for Designation Clear headwater streams used by this species are threatened by current land use practices.

Locations and Conditions of Key Habitat

Preferred Habitat

The Northern Redbelly Dace is reliant on cold, clear headwater streams and can be found in pools and behind dams in those streams. The bottom substrate is normally mud. Northern Redbelly Dace are associated with vegetation in these areas.

Key Areas and Conditions for Northern Redbelly Dace in North Dakota

In the Red River drainage the Northern Redbelly Dace has been historically documented in the Rush, Green, Goose, Tongue, and Park rivers, and spring-fed pools in the Sheyenne River. A specific area of note is the stretch of Sheyenne River that runs through the Sheyenne National Grasslands and Mirror Pool Wildlife Management Area. This stretch has the only recent documentation in the Red River drainage. Populations have been historically found in the Missouri River drainage, specifically Brush, Apple, Beaver, and Antelope creeks, and the Cannonball, Knife, Heart, and Little Missouri Rivers. Recent surveys appear to show a decline in that distribution.

Problems Which May Affect this Species


Degradation of quality habitat is recognized as the leading cause for decline in this species; specifically, loss of riparian habitat along waterways caused by current land use practices.

Other Natural or Manmade Factors

The addition of dams to this species habitat has changed the flow regime and fragmented populations.

Research and Survey Efforts

Current Research or Surveys

  • No research specifically targeting this species is underway.

Previous Research or Surveys

  • Red River basin streams were surveyed during the 1960s by the University of North Dakota (UND).
  • In the late 1970s, Red River basin stream surveys were conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Ecological Services Section (MDNR ECO).
  • A survey was conducted on the Red River during 1983 and 1984.
  • Investigations of stream fishes in the Red River basin occurred during 1993 and 1994 as a part of two major studies.
  • Several sites throughout the basin have been sampled for fishes using electrofishing gear by the MDNR, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), North Dakota Department of Health (NDDH), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). These studies are a part of the USGS National Water Quality Assessment program (Stoner et al. 1993) and the development of an index of biotic integrity for fishes in the basin (Goldstein et al. 1994).
  • A survey of the Sheyenne River and its tributaries within the Sheyenne National Grasslands was conducted by Brooks in 2000.
  • South Dakota State University surveyed the stream fish of the Red River and its drainages in 2008.
  • South Dakota State University surveyed western North Dakota streams in 2010.
  • A survey effort was conducted in the Sheyenne River by Valley City State University in 2012.
  • A survey effort was conducted in Baldhill Creek by Valley City State University in 2013.

Additional Research or Surveys Needed

  • Re-examine this species range.
  • Develop a protocol to monitor stream fish.

Management Recommendations

  • Protect rivers, streams, and riparian areas where possible (i.e. easements and/or acquisition).
  • Work with partners to ensure Swampbuster provisions are maintained.
  • Continue to use the Section 404 program to ensure affected rivers and riparian areas are mitigated to replace form and function.
  • Continue to work with other federal agencies (i.e. FAA and FHWA) not covered by Section 404 or Swampbuster to ensure affected rivers and riparian areas are mitigated to replace form and function.
  • Continue to work with NDSWC to develop minimum in-stream flow recommendations.
  • Develop and promote incentive programs to restore riparian areas.
  • Continue to work with ND 319 Task Force in prioritizing projects within impaired watersheds and implementing BMP’s.
  • Develop and promote incentive programs for adjacent landowners to improve bank stability through land use changes (e.g. RRBRP).
  • Promote non-traditional bank stabilization measures (i.e. root wads, willow waddles, vegetative slope).
  • Implement intake conditions or recommendations (i.e. screening and velocity requirements).
  • Work with the dam owners for potential removal or modification.
  • Cooperate with Fisheries Division on state aquatic nuisance species plan.
  • Survey areas of data gaps. Conduct research/surveys to establish baseline information on SCP.
  • Continue to work with partners in promoting and distributing educational materials related to river, stream and riparian values and good stewardship.

Monitoring Plans

No monitoring plan has been identified for this species. The North Dakota Department of Health conducts Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) surveys for all of North Dakota’s watersheds. This will document all species encountered.

2005-2015 PROGRESS

The Northern Redbelly Dace maintains its Level II Species of Conservation Priority. The most recent survey of stream fish seem to point to a reduction of range for this species. Sites within their range need to be revisited to evaluate their status in the state.

Range Map

Note: A listing of works consulted when compiling the information on this page may be found in the 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan.