Dace - Leuciscus Leuciscus

About the Dace.
Nicknamed "darts", these small and silvery fish glisten in the water as they flit about in the fast-flowing rivers and streams that they generally inhabit.

Dace Identification

The dace is often confused with both the chub and roach due to their similar colouration; yet the dace has a concave anal fin whereas the anal fin of the chub is convex and its mouth is considerably smaller.

The dace and roach are alike except that the roach has red fins, whilst those of the dace are grey or an orangey brown and additionally, the dace is somewhat slimmer than the chubby roach.

The dace is a small, slim, streamlined fish with bright silver flanks and a grey-dark green back. As with many fish its underside fades to white.

It has a small pointed head with a small mouth and yellow eyes (roach's eyes are red).

The caudal tail of the dace is forked and grey in colour as is the small dorsal fin, which is concave and situated in line with the pelvic fins.

The dace's body is covered in scales, which number approximately 50 along the lateral line.

The anal fin has 8 or 9 branched rays and is also concave in shape.

Dace Habitat

Dace are common coarse fish found throughout most of England's river systems. They favour fast-flowing rivers and streams, generally with a gravel bottom and tend to live in large shoals in the middle reaches of a river. Although they thrive in fast rivers, dace a fairly adaptable and can survive in slower moving waters in lowland regions.

Dace are not found in Scotland at all and are only found in a handful of locations in Wales and Ireland. They are also not common to the southwest of England.

Natural Dace Food

The dace's main diet consists of insects in any shape or form. They often spend most of the day in the shallow waters resting until the light begins to fade, which is when their feeding foray begins.

At this point the shoaling fish will move to a gravel riffle and just wait, as this is when many insects such as caddis fly larvae and mayfly larvae start to drift downstream. The dace quickly snatch these morsels of food before they are able to pass them by.

Dace can often be found at feeding time by the water's edge around vegetation, which is another rich source of flying or floating insects.

As well as insects, dace feed on plankton, algae and small crustaceans such as snails and water shrimps, which they pick from the bottom of the riverbed.

Dace Reproduction

Dace breed much earlier than other coarse fish, probably due to the fact that they thrive in cold water and only require a water temperature of 10°C to do so.

Thousands of dace gather together during the early part of February or March in the shallow, gravely bottomed riffles of the river just on the edge of a deep pool.

The female deposits her pale, orange eggs between the stones and plants where they sit for approximately three weeks until they hatch.

During spawning time, the males develop hard spawning tubercles on their head and their scales become rough to touch, whilst the female's scales remain smooth.

The Dace's Vital Statistics

  • Average weight: 4oz (115g)
  • Average length: 6 inches (15cm)
  • Specimen weight: anything over 8oz
  • Life-span: about 9 years
  • Current UK record: 1b 5oz 2 drams, River Wear, Co.Durham

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