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Desert Pupfish

Desert Pupfish

Common Name:
Desert Pupfish
Scientific Name:
Cyprinodon macularius
Gestation Period:
10 days
  • Aquatic (freshwater)
2.5 in
Life Span:
2 yrs
Number of Young:
400 eggs

Did you know desert pupfish can live in water six times saltier than the ocean? Learn more about desert pupfish.

Care & Wellness:

Maintaining fish that live in the desert is a challenge. It is crucial that keepers closely monitor conditions in their watery habitat. Behind the scenes, two breeding tanks hold dozens of adults and fry (baby fish). Pupfish breeding requires patience by the keepers, as well as frequent water quality testing and water changes.

  • Pupfish are territorial but do live in loose shoals (a group of fish).
  • Hearty fish that can survive in water up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit and six times saltier than the ocean.
  • They may become dormant in winter, burrowing into the muddy bottom.
Endangered Status
  • Extinct in Wild (EW)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Not Evaluated (NE)
Fun Facts:
  • Females lay eggs one at a time, and the eggs are then fertilized by the male.
  • Males turn a vibrant blue during breeding season.
  • Pupfish are considered "living fossils" and are cousins to the guppy.
  • Their population is relatively stable, but small.
A desert pupfish swimming.