Cyprinodon pecosensis

Pecos Pupfish


Picture of the Pecos Pupfish courtesy of the Texas Wild!
Name:  Pecos Pupfish

Scientific name: Cyprinodon pecosensis
Range: Texas and New Mexico

Location in the zoo: Mountains and Deserts area of the Brand New Texas Wild exhibit.
Diet in the wild: Omnivore- feeds mainly on aquatic invertebrates

Diet in the zoo: algae & mineral/rock fragments.
Habitat: Salt Creek in Texas and sinkholes in Bitter Lake and Bottomless Lakes State Park in New Mexico

Status:  Endangered


Picture of the Pecos Pupfish courtesy of Dr. Robert Rice of the Native Fish Conservancy website.

Physical Description:

  • Small in size, deep-bodied 2.8 to 4.6 centimeters.  
  • Body length 1.1 - 1.8 inches.  
  • Color- usually varies from gray to brown.  
  • The abdomen usually lacks scales, save for some in front of the pelvic fins and just behind the gill membrane isthmus (a narrow strip of tissue).
  • There are 20 to 21 gill rakers and generally 3 or 4 preorbital pores on either side of the head.  
  • The male Pupfish have dorsal and anal fins that are black.


General information: 

The Pecos pupfish can usually be found and seems to thrive in saline bodies of water that contain a limited number of other fish species. It occasionally lives in fresher waters, but that is uncommon in such habitats. In the saline habitats, populations can be very dense.  Along the Pecos River, this pupfish has most often been found in backwater areas and side pools that do not have sunfish or other various other predators.
The Latin name for the Pecos Pupfish is Cyprinodon pecosensis. The name Cyprinodon translates carp tooth, or teeth like a carp. Pecosensis just referrs to the geographic area in which the fish lives.

Mirror Lake at Bottomless Lake State Park         Bitter Lakes Wildlife Refuge

Pics Courtesy of the University of New Mexico Biology Department


Special anatomical, physiological
or behavioral adaptations:

The pupfish is a very adaptable fish and can live in diverse conditions "from water saltier than freshwater to seawater" with no problems whatsoever.

Picture of the Pecos Pupfish courtesy of Dr. Dean A. Hendrickson (Desert Fishes Council)  University of Texas at Austin. Photographer Dr. A. A. Echelle.



Observations from the Fort Worth Zoo....
The pupfish tank can be seen in the Mountains and Deserts section of the Texas Wild! exhibit.
The fish are being bred to maybe someday help to replenish areas of west Texas

 Pecos Pupfish in the breeding program at the Fort Worth Zoo:  Adults left, Pupfish Fry right. 


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