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Speckled Dace Rhinichthys osculus


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Family: Cyprinidae, Carps and Minnows view all from this family

Description To 4" (10 cm). Elongate, rounded; belly flat. Back dusky to dark olive; sides grayish green, with dark lateral stripe, often obscured by dark speckles or blotches; fins plain. Breeding males reddish on lips and fin bases. Snout moderately pointed; eye small; mouth small, ventral; barbels present. 8 dorsal fin rays; 7 anal fin rays; caudal fin moderately forked. Lateral line complete, with 6090 scales.

Endangered Status Five subspecies of the Speckled Dace are on the U.S. Endangered Species List. The Independence Valley Speckled Dace, Ash Meadows Speckled Dace, and Clover Valley Speckled Dace subspecies are classified as endangered in Nevada. The Foskett Speckled Dace is classified as threatened in Oregon. The Kendall Warm Springs Dace is classified as endangered in Wyoming. These subspecies have been variously affected by changes to their habitats and by the introduction of non-native fishes into their habitats. Some of them have very small populations in restricted habitats, and so are vulnerable to any changes to their environments, as an entire population can be wiped out by a single event. Protecting these fish from extinction will involve steps such as protecting their habitats and removing exotic fishes.

Related Species Desert Dace (Eremichthys acros) lacks barbels; has incomplete lateral line; occurs in hot springs in Soldier Meadows, nw. Nevada. Relict Dace (Relictus solitarius) has very robust body; lateral line incomplete; occurs in isolated spring pools in ne. Nevada.

Habitat Cool to warm creeks, rivers, and lakes over gravel or rocks; desert springs and their outflow.

Range West of Continental Divide from s. British Columbia south to s. Arizona.

Discussion The Speckled Dace is one of the most widespread minnows in western waters. There are several subspecies of this highly variable species. It is an important forage fish in some trout streams and is used for bait.