The Northern Redbelly Dace was declared endangered in the state of Colorado in 2015. At the time it was listed as a species of concern, there was only one wild population left. It seemed like this little fish was running out of time.
Now, the future of the Northern Redbelly Dace is looking brighter. A collaborative effort is underway to recover the population of Northern Redbelly Dace in Colorado by rearing fish in the classroom to be released into waterways across their historic range.
Community members across Boulder County and beyond have come together to save this Colorado native. The goal of the project is to aid the recovery of the Northern Redbelly Dace until the population is sustainable, as well as restore suitable habitat conditions for them and a multitude of other native species.
Check out our Release Information page to see a map of known release sites of Northern Redbelly Dace since 2015.
Northern Redbelly Dace are vulnerable to habitat disruptions that reduce base flows and riparian cover in freshwater aquatic habitat. Populations upstream of dams or culverts also demonstrate vulnerability to artificial water level fluctuations, especially during spawning, although the mechanisms of this sensitivity are not well understood.
The biggest threat to Northern Redbelly Dace populations appears to be a combination of habitat destruction and reduction, as well as the presence or introduction of large predatory fish species, like trout, bass, pike, and sunfish. The brightly colored breeding males, in particular, are not well adapted to avoiding larger fish predators. As a species adapted to cold climates, the range of the Northern Redbelly Dace may be reduced in the future due to the effects of climate change.