Image of Northern Redbelly Dace
Northern Redbelly Dace

A Conservation Effort: Northern Redbelly Dace

The Northern Redbelly Dace (NRD) is a freshwater minnow found throughout most of the northern United States and Canada and are 1-3 inches in length. They are omnivorous; feeding on a combination of algae, vegetation, small invertebrates. The species is a sight-feeder, meaning they exclusively rely their sense of sight to hunt and eat. This means certain water quality characteristics such as temperature and turbidity are crucial to the success of this species in an environment.

The Colorado population has been significantly impacted by habitat disruption (dams and human activity), large predatory fish species, like trout, bass, pike, and sunfish, and changing temperatures.

In 2015, Colorado Parks and Wildlife designated the NRD as a “Tier 1: Species of Greatest Conservation Need.”

The Innovation Center in collaboration with Ocean’s First Institute, Boulder County, Boulder County Parks and Open Space Foundation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and the Denver Zoo has formed a Northern Redbelly Dace Recovery program which aims to increase public awareness and peak student interest in the conservation of native species. The primary goal of the recovery project is to expand the range of healthy Northern Redbelly Dace populations in the state of Colorado and beyond. 

Through this project, we have included students and community volunteers to help increase the success rate of this endeavor which includes facilitating a yearly fish-release and creating a system for continued data collection.

Lesson Plan and Activities

Below your will find links to the lesson plans and materials that our students have developed as well as some activities.

Northern Redbelly Dace Comic Book

Check out our student created comic book below that highlights the efforts on the Northern Redbelly Dace Recovery Project.

front cover
Dace Page 1
Dace Page 2
Back Cover


Data science students touring the City of Longmont Water Quality Lab
Data science students touring the City of Longmont Water Quality Lab

Additional Content and Resources

Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools