Sonoyta pupfish

Sonoyta pupfish
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cyprinodontiformes
Family: Cyprinodontidae
Genus: Cyprinodon
Species: C. eremus
Binomial name
Cyprinodon eremus
Miller & Fulman, 1987

The Sonoyta pupfish or Quitobaquito pupfish, Cyprinodon eremus, is one of the most distinct species in its genus. This pupfish ( Cyprinodon - Genus ) is restricted to the Rio Sonoyta Basin in Sonora, Mexico and south-central Arizona, named the Quitobaquito Springs. The Quitobaquito pupfish is the last remaining major population of fish at the Springs.



The Quitobaquito pupfish has a thick, chubby body with a superior mouth filled with tricuspid teeth. The scales have spine-like projections. The body colors of males and females vary. Females (and juveniles) have narrow, vertical dark bands on the sides of the body, with a disjoined lateral band. Although females (and juveniles) have silver bodies, the fins are generally colorless, with the exception of an ocellate spot on the dorsal fin, and sometimes, a dark spot on the anal fin. Mature, breeding males, however, have darker fins, attached to a light to sky-blue body. The posterior part of their caudal peduncle (tailside) is yellow or orange, and sometimes, an intense orange-red.[1] Compared to other pupfishes, the Quitobaquito pupfish has a larger head, mouth and body, but smaller fins and shorter caudal peduncle.[2] The Quitobaquito pupfish also has a deeper head and longer jaw.


As mentioned above, the Quitobaquito pupfish are restricted to Quitobaquito Springs. More specifically, these fish can be found in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, in which there is also a concrete tank nearby where the fish are held.


Quitobaquito pupfish are not restricted to small ponds and springs, where it prefers shallow water and heavily vegetated marsh. These pupfish can handle various fluctuations of water temperatures as well; including salinity levels three times that of seawater and temperatures exceeding 95 F (35 C).[3]


The Quitobaquito pupfishes are omnivores, consuming all types of aquatic insects, crustaceans, and plants.


The Quitobaquitaque pupfish chooses a territory to reproduce, but strangely, the female’s eggs are deposited randomly within that territory. Males have a distinct coloration that intensifies during breeding season.[4]


Due to habitat changes, predation and/or competition with nonnative fishes, and possible wind drift of harmful chemicals from nearby Sonora, Mexico, the Quitobaquito pupfish population is severely reduced in other areas; however, the population at the Quitobaquito Springs remains stable, but sometimes ranges from high to low numbers seasonally. Conservation efforts for this species includes maintenance of habitats by keeping them free of nonnative aquatic species, and observing population health frequently.

See also



  1. ^ Minckley, W.L. 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix. pp.186-192.
  2. ^ Miller, R.R. and L.A. Fuiman. 1987. Description and conservation status of Cyprinodon macularius eremus, a new subspecies of pupfish from Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona. Copeia 1987(3):593-609.
  3. ^ Minckley, W.L. 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix. pp.186-192.
  4. ^ Arizona Game and Fish Department. 2001. Cyprinodon eremus. Unpublished abstract compiled and edited by the Heritage Data Management System, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, AZ. 3 pp.

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