Speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus) in Lake Quinault, WA. Photo: Roger Tabor (USFWS).

Speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus) in Lake Quinault, WA.   Photo: Roger Tabor (USFWS), Creative Commons License.

Speckled dace
Rhinichthys osculus
  • Gray, gray-brown or olive with darker flecks on sides and back.
  • Brassy on sides, yellowish-white on belly.
  • Dark spot at base of caudal (tail) fin.
  • Areas of red-orange color on spawning males.
  • Swims alone or in small groups (not in schools).

Record Observations
Species Description:

“This species inhabits both streams and lakes. In the rivers it is most often taken on the ripples.  In lakes it frequents the shallow water, swimming near the bottom, or in crevices between rocks.  From above, when seen in the water, the color is decidedly black.”  -John Otterbein Snyder, 1917

Speckled dace are small (less than 4 inches long), chunky minnows found in springs, lakes, rivers and streams throughout much of the Western US, and they are native to the Truckee River watershed.  They feed close to the stream bottom on insects, algae and invertebrates (Sigler & Sigler 1987).  Speckled dace are usually found in shallow waters less than 3 feet deep (Sigler & Sigler 1987).  In Lake Tahoe, speckled dace are most active at night and inactive during winter (Natureserve 2014).  Unlike Lahontan redsides, Speckled dace do not form schools, but swim along the stream bottom in very small groups or as individuals (Rivers 1994).

Photos & Information needed!

Do you have an original photograph of a speckled dace from the Truckee River?   If so, please contribute photos and observations here!



NatureServe. 2014. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed:November 7, 2014 ).

Rivers, I. L. (1994). Fishes and fisheries of Nevada. Reno: University of Nevada Press.

Sigler, W. F., & Sigler, J. W. (1987). Fishes of the Great Basin: A natural history. Reno: University of Nevada Press.

Snyder, John O. 1917. The Fishes of the Lahontan System of Nevada and Northeastern California. Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries, Volume XXXV, 1915-16. Document No. 843, September 28, 1917.


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