Sonoran and Mojave Deserts of southern California, southern Arizona and northwest Mexico.
Warm desert pools, marshes, streams and springs.
Salt Creek Area Death Valley
The desert pupfish is a small, silvery-colored fish with 6 to 9 dark bands on its sides. This tiny fish grows to a full average length of only 2.5 inches. Pupfish develop quickly, sometimes reaching full maturity within 2 to 3 months. Although their average life span is 6 to 9 months, some survive more than one year.
Pupfish have a short, scaled head with an upturned mouth. The anal and dorsal fins are rounded with the dorsal sometimes exhibiting a dark blotch. The caudal fin is convex at the rear.
Pupfish feed on brown and green algae. During winter months, when the water is cold, they become dormant, burrowing in the muddy bottom of their habitat.
As spring approaches and the water warms, pupfish become very active and begin their mating ritual. The breeding males become iridescent blue in color and defend their territory, chasing away all other fish except females that are ready to spawn. Spawning starts towards the end of February and continues through summer.
As temperatures become extreme toward summer, evaporation dries up most pools and streams, resulting in the deaths of most of the pupfish. A few survive in the small number of pools, streams and springs that do not dry up completely.
Pupfish at Anza Borrego Desert State Park visitor center.
The various species of pupfish serve as evidence that a series of prehistoric desert lakes were once interconnected. This genus speciated when the Pleistocene lakes evaporated around 10,000 years ago, isolating different groups from each other. Among the 13 know species of pupfish, C. macularius and C. diabolis (the desert hole pupfish) are the most well known.
Several species of pupfish are endangered by desert development and the introduction of exotic fish species into their habitat. Pupfish are protected at various locations in Death Valley National Park, including Saratoga Springs, Salt Creek and a totally distinct portion of the park located in Nevada called Devil's Hole. Pupfish can also be seen at California's Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
-- A.R Royo
SEARCH THIS SITE
View Video about Dust Devils. Born of the battle between the sun and sand, the dust devil is a rapidly rotating column of air that has wrapped itself around a rising thermal. The average dust devil is ten to fifty feet in diameter. The chief ingredients for a good dust devil are clear skies, a bright sun, and a dry hot surface. Click here to view video.
Desert Food Chain Video - A food chain constitutes a complex network of organisms, from plants to animals, through which energy, derived from the sun, flows in the form of organic matter and dissipates in the form of waste heat. The food chain’s biological productivity and species diversification depend on factors such as the daily duration and angle of seasonal sunlight, the timely availability of water, the daily swings of seasonal temperatures, the chemical content of the soils, and the availability of nutrients.
Click here to see current desert temperatures!
DesertUSA is a comprehensive resource about the North American deserts and Southwest destinations. Learn about desert biomes while you discover how desert plants and animals learn to adapt to the harsh desert environment. Find travel information about national parks, state parks, BLM land, and Southwest cities and towns located in or near the desert regions of the United States. Access maps and information about the Sonoran Desert, Mojave Desert, Great Basin Desert, and Chihuahuan Desert.