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Fragile Legacy


Endangered, Threatened & Rare Animals of South Dakota


Pearl Dace (Semotilus margarita)


JPG--species photo species distribution map
Status: State Threatened

Description: The pearl dace is a small (2.5-5 inches, 64-127 mm), dark or dusky colored fish. Its belly is silver gray to white in color. It usually has a dark spot near the base of its tail. Young pearl dace have a dark lateral band. Adult males have orange-red sides below the lateral band.

Habitat and Habits: The pearl dace occurs in cool bogs, ponds, lakes, creeks and clear streams. It spawns in the spring in clear water with a weak to moderate current over sand or gravel. This species feeds on invertebrates (insects and zooplankton) and algae.

Distribution: The pearl dace is found in most of Canada and the northern United States. In South Dakota, the pearl dace has been found in cool spring sites in Todd and Tripp Counties. This is part of a relict or remnant population located in parts of South Dakota, Nebraska and northern lowa.

Conservation Measures: Limited suitable habitat for the pearl dace exists in South Dakota. This habitat should be identified so that necessary conservation efforts can be undertaken.


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