Native Fish Management
For thousands of years, Arizona’s native fish adapted to life in habitats ranging from small springs to the raging torrents of the Colorado River. Their ability to adjust to periods of drought and flash floods is truly a marvel of nature and has been a key to their survival.
Unfortunately, native fish have not done as well adapting to the influences of humans on their environment. Habitat loss and alteration, and the introduction of non-native fish species, have caused sharp declines in many native fish populations. Out of the 36 fish species native to Arizona, one species is already extinct; 34 have been identified as Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Arizona; and, 20 have been federally listed as endangered or threatened. A special and irreplaceable part of Arizona could easily disappear if more native fish species are lost.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department, along with numerous government agencies, conservation organizations, and members of the public, has been working to restore native fish populations and is making progress in conserving many of the most imperiled species. Native fish conservation aims to preserve Arizona’s link to the past so that we may leave a natural legacy for future generations.
The goal of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s native fish management is to manage and conserve the state’s native fish species through on-the-ground conservation projects; threatened and endangered species recovery; statewide population monitoring; creation and implementation of conservation agreements; provision of research grants; and, public education and outreach.
Native Fish Management Projects
*Note: This represents only a few of the many native fish projects implemented by the Department.
- Refuge and Propagation of Rare Native Fish
- Reestablish Warmwater Native Fish Communities
- Desert Pupfish and Gila Topminnow Recovery
Distribution maps are based on occurrences in the HDMS database and are not meant to be complete or predicted range maps. Each species has specific criteria that must be met before being entered into the database. Therefore, the resulting maps reflect only the occurrences that meet the species specific criteria.
Native Fish Species
- Gila longfin dace, Agosia chrysogaster chrysogaster
- Yaqui longfin dace, Agosia chrysogaster sp 1
- Mexican stoneroller, Campostoma ornatum
- Yaqui sucker, Catostomus benardini
- Desert Sucker, Catostomus (Pantosteus) clarki
- Bluehead sucker, Catostomus (Pantosteus) discobolus
- Zuni bluehead sucker, Catostomus (Pantosteus) discobolus yarrowi
- Sonora sucker, Catostomus insignis
- Flannelmouth sucker, Catostomus latipinnis
- Little Colorado River sucker, Catostomus sp. 3
- Beautiful shiner, Cyprinella formosa
- Quitobaquito pupfish, Cyprinidon eremus
- Desert pupfish, Cyprinodon macularius
- Pacific tenpounder or (machete), Elops affinis
- Humpback chub, Gila Cypha
- Sonora chub, Gila ditaenia
- Bonytail chub, Gila elegans
- Gila chub, Gila intermedia*
- Yaqui chub, Gila purpurea
- Roundtail chub, Gila robusta
- Virgin chub, Gila seminuda
- Yaqui catfish, Ictalurus pricei
- Virgin spinedace, Lepidomeda mollispinis mollispinis
- Little Colorado River spinedace, Lepidomeda vittata
- Spikedace, Meda fulgida
- Striped mullet, Mugil cephalus
- Apache trout, Oncorhynchus apache
- Gila trout, Oncorhyncus gilae
- Woundfin, Plagopterus argentissimus
- Gila topminnow, Poeciliopsis occidentalis occidentalis
- Yaqui topminnow, Poeciliopsis occidentalis sonorensis
- Colorado pikeminnow, Ptychcheilus lucius
- Speckled dace, Rhinichthys osculus
- Loach minnow, Tiaroga cobitis
- Razorback sucker, Xyrauchen texanus
* In September 2016, the American Fisheries Society and the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Committee on Names of Fishes reclassified and merged Roundtail Chub, Gila Chub, and Headwater Chub into one species, the Roundtail Chub. The Arizona Game and Fish Department recognizes these changes, and all populations formerly recognized and referred to as Headwater Chub or Gila Chub (sensu Minckley and DeMarais, 2000) are reported herein as Roundtail Chub. In April 2017, the USFWS withdrew the proposal to list Headwater Chub and the lower Colorado River Distinct Population Segment of Roundtail Chub as threatened based on the taxonomic changes, and now recognizes all three former species as Roundtail Chub. The Gila Chub is still listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act by the USFWS pending a range-wide species status assessment of Roundtail Chub. (USFWS 2017).