Natural History of the
Longnose Dace (Rhinichtys cataractae)

Rhinichtys cataractae
illustration by Ellen Edmonson

The longnose dace (Family Cyprinidae: minnows) looks like a minature shark with the underslung jaw (lower jaw much shorter than the upper jaw - this is a distinctive field character). They are small minnows, reaching 3-5". They are colored as in the illustration, but breeding males may have brighter red at the corners of the mouth and the bases of the fins.

They live throughout much of northern North America from the northern tier of states in the United States to the arctic circle. They live in most areas of New York State except Long Island. Although they are widespread geographically they have very specific habitat requirements: they live only in riffle areas of streams in the fast water currents. They feed off the stream bottom and eat insect larvae and fish eggs. They are heavy feeders on black fly larvae.

Spawning takes place from May to June in shallow riffles over gravel bottoms. The males guard a territory on the river bed and mate with females that approach them in their territory.

After the eggs hatch the young drift downstream to areas of quieter water. They live there for a few months then move back to riffle areas.

Fish of the Boquet Boquet River