The common dace natively lives in a temperate climate and prefers water with a 6.0 to 8.0 pH and an ideal temperature range of 39 to 72 °F (4 to 22 °C). It prefers clear streams flowing over a gravelly bottom, and deep, still water, keeping close to the bottom in winter but disporting itself near the surface, in the sunshine of summer. It is preyed upon by the larger predaceous fishes of fresh waters, and owing to its silvery appearance is a favourite bait in pike angling. Its flesh is wholesome and is sometimes caught for food, but is not held in much estimation. While typically a freshwater fish, the dace enters brackish waters in the eastern Baltic Sea.
The dace is a lively, active fish, of gregarious habits, and exceedingly prolific, depositing its pale yellow eggs in the spring at the roots of aquatic plants or in the gravelly beds of the shallow, flowing streams it frequents. It poses a risk as a potential pest in some areas. In appearance it closely resembles the Roach in both size and shape, with the head and back of a dusky blue color and the sides of a shining silvery aspect, with numerous dark lines running along the course of the scales. The ventral and anal fins are white, tinged with pale red,; and the dorsal, pectoral and caudal tipped with black. The dace feeds on worms, insects, insect-larvae, snails, and also rarely on vegetable matter.