E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Rhinichthys cataractae (Valenciennes, 1842)
Longnose Dace
Family: Cyprinidae

Photo of species

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #3212)

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Source: Distribution map provided by Don McPhail for E-Fauna BC
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Species Information


The longnose dace is a river and creek-dwelling minnow species that is endemic to North America, and is widespread across the continent. It is a bottom-dwelling species that is found in riffles of high gradient, fast flowing streams and associated pools, and sometimes in inshore areas of lakes (gravel/boulder bottoms). In British Columbia, it is found throughout most of the province, but is absent in some regions (coastal islands and most coastal rivers) (McPhail 2007). There are three forms of the species in BC, including the provincially red-listed Nooksack dace. The longnose dace hybridizes with the redside shiner (Richardsonius balteatus) and with lake chub (Couesius plumbeus) in BC. (McPhail 2007). Females can lay between 200 and 1200 eggs.

BC Distribution and Notes

This widespread species is remarkably uniform across North America, except in British Columbia. In B.C., there are three forms of longnose dace — the typical Great Plains form in northeastern B.C., the typical Columbia-Fraser form in the rest of the province, and the Nooksack dace in the extreme southwestern region. The first two forms differ substantially in their reproductive biology and, genetically, they are quite (>4%) divergent. They may be different species. Similarly, the mitochondrial DNA of the Nooksack dace is >2% divergent from that of the Columbia-Fraser longnose dace. Although the Nooksack dace is abundant in western Washington State, it is seriously threatened by urban development in B.C.

Source: Information provided by Don McPhail for E-Fauna BC.

Global Distribution

Found in North America. "Widely occurs from coast to coast of north-central North America: in the east along the mountains to Virginia; in the Mississippi drainage south to Iowa; in the western basin south to northern Mexico; reported from northeastern Nevada; in the inshore waters in all the Great Lakes" (Fishbase 2013).

Identification and Subspecies Information

Of the three forms of the Longnose Dace present in BC, the BC Conservation Data Centre tracks the red-listed Rhinichthys cataractae--Chehalis lineage (Nooksack Dace).

"The Nooksack Dace is an undescribed genetically and morphologically distinct form of the Longnose dace endemic to southwestern BC" (Eric Taylor, pers. comm. 2011).

Very little is known about the lifecycle of the Nooksack dace, but it is thought that they spawn at night, when the eggs are "dropped on the rocky bottom of a shallow, fast moving stream" (McPhail 2007). It is smaller than the longnose dace, and is found in the Nooksack River system in the lower Fraser Valley, where it is reported from four creeks: Bertrand, Cave, Fishtrap, and Pepin. It is critically imperiled in BC, and is listed as federally endangered by COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada). It is restricted in global range to northwestern Washington and southwestern British Columbia, where it evolved in a glacial refuge. McPhail (2007) says: "The Nooksack dace is part of the “Chehalis fauna”, a group of fish that originated in the unglaciated areas south of Puget Sound during Pleistocene glaciation". Threats to this species include sedimentation and general habitat degradation, and habitat loss. Read more about the Nooksack dace.

Status Information

Scientific NameOrigin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
Rhinichthys cataractaeNativeS5YellowNot Listed
Rhinichthys cataractae - Chehalis lineageNativeS1RedE (Apr 2007)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

Species References

McPhail, J. D. 2007. The Freshwater Fish of British Columbia. University of Alberta Press, Edmonton.

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-07-13 6:21:33 PM]
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