Desert Pupfish At The Phoenix Zoo
In 2008, The Phoenix Zoo became involved in conservation efforts for the desert pupfish., by dedicating ponds on zoo grounds to raising desert pupfish for release to the wild. These tiny, dynamic fish measuring no more than 2 inches in length are an endangered species, meaning that without our help they may go extinct. Desert pupfish have robust round bodies and males that flaunt blue torsos and yellow tails during the spring and summer breeding season. Though two different species of desert pupfish are recognized (distinguished by their locations), the desert pupfish Cyprinodon macularius and the Quitobaquito pupfish Cyprinodon eremus, The Phoenix Zoo chose to focus on the desert pupfish.
This Arizona native boasts adaptations that only a desert fish could make useful. Desert pupfish can withstand wide temperature ranges, especially high temperatures and with it the higher salinities that usually result. Waters that create this habitat for pupfish are small streams, springs, pools, ponds, and marshes below 1, 500 feet of elevation. During the chillier winter months, these little guys borrow into the mud and stay dormant until spring warms their waters.
Once spring arrives the pupfish courtship begins and continues through summer. It involves a female finding a flashy, colorful male and then laying a single egg for him to fertilize and protect as a part of his territory. Each female can lay up to 800 eggs per breeding season! Like most scaly parents, this is where parenthood ends and the real-world begins for their offspring. These youngsters are called frye and they spend the majority of their time hiding in algae and under cover to avoid predators. The desert pupfish's diet consists mostly of algae and small invertebrates- like snails and aquatic insects.