Fun Pupfish Facts For Kids

Martha Martins
Oct 20, 2022 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Ambuj Tripathi
The Pupfish facts about the tiny silver, and bluefish.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.0 Min

The Devil's hole pupfish, scientifically known as Cyprinodon diabolis, is exclusively native to Devil's hole, a water-filled cave or dugout in the Death Valley National, U.S Nevada. In 1952, the Devil's hole pool was integrated with the Death Valley National park, located in California.

It is a critically endangered species of the family Cyprinodontidae fishes.

It is a close relative to the Death valley pupfish (Salt Creek pupfish) and Ash meadows pupfish. It is a tiny fish, and the male, female and juvenile can be differentiated with colors.

The primary predator of these Devil hole pupfish is the diving beetle.

The other threats are natural calamities and weather conditions or depletion of water levels, and lack of prey. The Devil's hole is 430 ft deep, but these fishes are present in the upper 80 ft where water temperatures are recorded to be 91 degrees F; the submerged shallow rock shelf provides these fishes with a feeding and spawning habitat.

Read on for more on this fish. If this article interests you, we have engaging content on milkfish and sucker fish too.

Pupfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a pupfish?

The Devil's Hole pupfish is a species of fish, it belongs to the order Cyprinodontiformes, and falls under the family of Cyprinodontidae of superfamily Cyprinodontoidea. It is a small to medium-sized ray-finned fish.

What class of animal does a pupfish belong to?

The Devil's Hole pupfish is a species of fish that belongs to the fish class of Actinopterygii. Actinopterygii can be split as actino, which means having rays in the Latin language, and pterux, which means wings and fins in Greek. Hence they can be classified as ray-finned fishes of the subclass bony fishes.

How many pupfish are there in the world?

The research on the strength of this fish of the world began in 1972. Through the years 1970-1996, the population was 324.

The highest on the record were noted in 1980, 1990, 1995, which summed up to 541-580 individuals. By the year 2005, these devils' population has reduced to 200 or less.

The steady decline can be related to the reduced growth of algae and winter conditions. As per studies population of these pupfish, Cyprinodon was reduced to 38-42 by 2007, but in 2013 only 35 Devil's hole pupfish were reported in natural habitat, according to the United States fish and wildlife.

The organization enforced a recovery plan to safeguard water levels.

The all-time high in the population was 136 in 2019 since 2003. As per a study conducted in 2014, the population of these fishes may become extinct in the next 20 years.

Where does a pupfish live?

The Cyprinodon species inhabit temperate desert freshwater bodies of lakes and ponds. They adapt even to brackish waters, which are saline when compared to fresh water and less saline than seawater.

What is a pupfish's habitat?

Pupfish are known to adapt to extreme and isolated environments that are difficult for other animals to survive. These pupfish species can be endemic to desert water pools, brackish swamps, seas, lakes, and estuaries.

They are primarily native to North America, South America, and the Caribbean sea areas, adapting coastal waters of California and perimeters of certain western salt lakes. Typically, the Devil's Hole pupfish reside on the upper 80 ft of the waterbody, where there is adequate sunlight as they survive in temp 94 degrees Fahrenheit.

The small shallow submerged limestone rock shelf of the Devil's Hole bestows these fish residing's spawning and feeding habitat.

The Devil's Hole is a location within Ash Meadows of National Wildlife Refugee, based at Nye County, Nevada of Southwestern United States. It is a detached unit of Death Valley National Park and the only natural habitat for the Cyprinodon diabolis.

The Devil's Hole is a geothermal pool. It has adequate oxygen levels and favorable temperatures through the shallow limestone sock shelves.

Who do pupfish live with?

This fish lives in social groups; they are friendly, highly energetic, and lively fish sprinting around in their pool habitats. They do not exhibit any territorial behavior unless during mating or adverse weather conditions.

How long does a pupfish live?

The lifespan of these pupfish species is 10-14 months.

How do they reproduce?

This species of pupfish are oviparous. These adapt the spawning methodology for reproduction. Spawn is egg-containing reproductive cells; the female releases reproductive egg cells into the water, and simultaneously, the male releases sperm to fertilize the egg.

Spawning predominantly occurs from mid-Feb to mid-May, where there is a favorable condition for fertilization of the egg and continues from July to September. During this consort pair mating process, the female is followed by one or more males for up to an hour.

Once the consort is found, the male and female dive into the bottom of the pool and spawn. During this process, the consort male will prevent other competing males from coming closer to females. The female deposits a single egg which is 0.039 inches in diameter.

Once the eggs are laid, the male releases sperm, and the eggs are fertilized. Later the eggs hatch to become juveniles.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of this species of pupfish is Critically Endangered by the International Union Of Conservation and as Endangered on U.S Federal List. This species is limited to small sites.

The lowered water levels in the Devil's Hole and reduced biological fitness, inadequate prey species, earthquakes, or changing dynamics of sea sediments and the algae communities have been so far accounting for the significantly decreasing Devil's Hole pupfish populations.

Potosi pupfish, Catarina pupfish, Santa Cruz pupfish, and Tecopa pupfish are extinct due to these reasons. In April 2016, the Devil's Hole fish was vanadalized when three men damaged the Devil's Hole eggs and larvae and even vomited into the lake.

Pupfish Fun Facts

What do pupfish look like?

The Devil's Hole pupfish is a small fish species of the genus Cyprinodon. Their maximum length is 1.2 in, and the gross length is 0.9 in.

The male and female are differentiated by coloration. While the males are dark brown with metallic blue on their sides, the borders of their fins are black, and their dorsal surface with gill covers is golden shimmery and has violet shine up at the ventral side. Their eyes are blue and radiant.

The females and young fish are yellow-brownish. The pectoral fins and caudal fins are yellow in females. The margins of all fins are black.

Their opercles are metallic green, and their eyes are tinted blue. The juvenile has an overall yellow body and a very light vertical bar at the sides.

These fishes do not have a pelvic fin. They have 12 rays in the dorsal fin and 17 rays in each pectoral fin. The convex caudal fin has 28 rays. The lateral line from the back of the opercles to the beginning of the tail has 27 scales toothed outwards.

Some interesting, fun facts of a Devil's hole pupfish.

How cute are they?

These Devil's Hole fish are small in size and with attractive ray fins that are blue or yellow-colored. It is an enjoyable and endearing experience to gaze at these fishes.

How do they communicate?

Though there are not many studies on this endangered species' communication, they are believed to use chemical and visual signals to communicate. As their lateral lines are weak, it could be assumed that they are weak in recognizing the movements of other creatures in the water.

How big is a pupfish?

The Devil hole pupfish is a smaller fish whose length is nearly two times smaller than Tecopa pupfish, which is 1.9 in long. The Death Valley pupfish and Desert pupfish or Cyprinodon macularius is 1.5 in length, and the recorded highest length is 3.1 in.

How fast can a pupfish swim?

The movement of pupfish is sedentary, but they are known to sprint in water, and they can sprint for 149 minutes within their range.

How much does a pupfish weigh?

A Devil's hole species is a relatively small-sized fish.

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male and female pupfish are called male pupfish and female pupfish.

What would you call a baby pupfish?

The baby pupfish is addressed as juvenile pupfish.

What do they eat?

The pupfish generally prey on algae, decaying vegetation, crustaceans, and insects.

Are they eaten by humans?

There is no established evidence on humans eating these small-sized Cyprinodon species.

Would they make a good pet?

Though they are of small size, beautiful blue and yellow colors, though their nature is friendly, lively, and spirtely, though they are social, and feeding them is easy, it is unlawful to import, transport, or possess these pupfish Cyprinodon. This is due to the Critically Endangered status of this fish.

Did you know...

The Devil's Hole pupfish are likely to fluctuate in their Devil Hole habitat. During mid sun, when the sunlight is at a maximum, the population reduces on the shallow shelf. This is prominent from April to September. During winter, likely from December through March, they reside on the shelf, as the shelf receives little direct sunlight.

Another species, the Cyprinodona macularius discovered in the Saltan Sink basin in California, survive on low oxygen levels, water temperatures, and high salinities.

As per the recorded data in August 2006, there are 120 types of pupfish species and nine subspecies.

Some of the species of Cyprinodontidae include the White Sands pupfish, which lives in only two small streams in New Mexico, The Amargosa pupfish and Owens pupfish are native to the Mojave Desert and Owens Valley in California, Comanche Springs pupfish and Leon Springs pupfish, Red River pupfish found only in Texas, and Lake Eustis pupfish is endemic to Florida.

Are pupfish territorial?

The male exhibits territorial behavior during the breeding season. They try to attract females into their territory to lay eggs. A male attracts several females to lay eggs in its territory, and a female may lay eggs in the territory of several males.

What temperature waters can pupfish survive in?

The Desert pupfish can sustain extreme climates of 32-116 degrees F. The Devil Hole pupfish is known to adapt to 94 degrees F.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including black marlin, or anchovies.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Pupfish coloring pages.

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Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha Martins picture

Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

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Fact-checked by Ambuj Tripathi

Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ambuj Tripathi picture

Ambuj TripathiBachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ambuj is a skilled fact checker with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University. He has been recognized for his exceptional content writing skills, having won a CineMedia competition. In addition to his writing abilities, he also has a flair for design.

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