A small fish in the Cyprinidae family (4), the Little Colorado spinedace (Lepidomeda vittata) belongs to a unique group of fish that are endemic to the lower and middle Colorado River basin in the south-western United States (5). The Little Colorado spinedace has distinctive large round eyes and a rounded snout. It has a slightly slanted mouth and, like other cyprinid fish, lacks teeth in its jaw, instead having two rows of enlarged bones in the throat known as ‘pharyngeal teeth’ (3).
The sides of the Little Colorado spinedace are silvery (3), often with darker silver lines that run vertically down the sides of the body (2). Occasionally it may have blotches (3) or dark, pepper-like markings (2), though these are generally rare (3). This species is typically darker above (3), with the upperparts usually appearing olive, blue or grey (2). The underside of the body is generally white (3), although parts of the belly may sometimes appear a pale, watery yellow (2).
A conspicuous cream-coloured spot is positioned close to the dorsal fin (2), which is relatively large and fairly pointed (3). The fins of the Little Colorado spinedace are largely clear; however, in male fish, the base of the pectoral and pelvic fins may turn an intense reddish-orange, while in females they are usually watery yellow or reddish-orange. Tubercles may sometimes be present on the body of the male (2).
- Average length: 10 cm (2) (3)