Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The Virgin spinedace, Lepidomeda mollispinis, is a small minnow originally found throughout the Virgin River system of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. Due to dewatering, habitat fragmentation, flow alteration, and the introduction of nonnative fishes, however, Virgin spinedace populations have been reduced in recent times, and the species is now found only in portions of its historic range. Efforts are now underway to restore Virgin spinedace populations to acceptable levels.

Virgin spinedace are opportunistic feeders, eating insects, insect larvae, other invertebrates, and plant matter. The species spawns during spring and late summer, usually during periods of high flows. Virgin spinedace prefer the clear, slow-moving water of creeks and small streams, and are usually found in areas with abundant cover. The subspecies of Virgin spinedace that occurs in Utah is Lepidomeda mollispinis mollispinis.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Sigler, W. F. and J. W. Sigler. 1996. Fishes of Utah[:] a natural history. University of Utah Press. Salt Lake City. 375 pp.