Arizona Fish Update–November 2013

By Garry Rogers

Arizona Fish Habitat

A Beautiful Desert Stream Runs Through the Heart of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona.

Small stretches of the Agua Fria River in central Arizona are perennial. The water is polluted by farm fertilizer and mine tailings. Invasive species are abundant.

The U. S. State of Arizona occupies a dry region with limited precipitation, high evaporation, and not much surface water.  Widespread winter rain and snow, and heavy summer rain can escape evaporation by penetrating the soil and accumulating in fractured rocks and sediments on slopes and in valley floors.  The moisture soaks down slope through the sediments, and appears in springs, intermittent streams, and a few perennial streams and small lakes.  Many isolated endemic and rare species are present in these small moist habitats across the state.  (The header image is a Beautiful Shiner (Cyprinella formosa) photographed by René Reyes of the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation.)


During the past century, the human population grew from thousands to millions.  First farming, and then industrial and urban users diverted the streams into reservoirs and then began withdrawing stored water in the ground.  Some stream segments and many springs have been lost.  The remaining surface water is declining and is being polluted with toxic residue from mines, towns, and farms.

The threatening situation facing Arizona fish is common worldwide.  According to Stephen J. Walsh, Howard L. Jelks, and Noel M. Burkhead of the U. S. Geological Survey, almost half of North American species are imperiled and the number is growing (2009 article online at Actionbioscience).

Arizona Fish Numbers

According to the October 10 report by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), there are 42 surviving native Arizona fish species.  Two native species are already extinct, and the rest are all considered vulnerable.  The numbers below are from the North American Native Fishes Association (NANFA), U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD).  Percentages are given for Arizona’s native species.  Many of the introduced species are declining along with the natives.

  • North America:  1200
  • Arizona fish species:  42
  • Arizona fish extinct:  2 (5%)
  • Arizona fish vulnerable:  40 (100%)
  • Arizona introduced exotic fish species:  68
  • ESA Arizona fish Listed Endangered:  6 (15%)
  • ESA Arizona fish Listed Threatened:  6 (15%)
  • ESA Arizona fish of Concern:  2 (5%)

Arizona Fish References

  • The online Naturalist’s Bookstore has field guides (at the end of the category list) and other references.  Go to:  http://bit.ly/RKW2bC.
  • AZGFD, Arizona Game and Fish Department:  http://www.azgfd.gov.
  • ASIH, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists:  http://asih.org.
  • Burkhead, N. M.  2012.  Extinction rates in North American freshwater fishes, 1900-2010.  BioScience, 62: 798 – 808
  • Miller, R.R.  1961.  Man and the changing fish fauna of the American Southwest.  Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters 46: 365-404.
  • Miller, R. R., and C.H. Lowe. 1964. Fishes of Arizona. Pages 133-151 in Lowe, C.H., Ed. The vertebrates of Arizona. University of AZ Press, Tucson. 270 p.
  • Nelson J.S., E.J. Crossman, H. Espinosa-Pérez, L.T. Findley, C.R. Gilbert, R.N. Lea, and J.D. Williams.  2004.  Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, 6th ed. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.  386 p.
  • NANFA, North American Native Fishes Association:  http://www.nanfa.org.
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.  Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes:  http://vertebrates.si.edu/fishes/
  • Turner, D.S. and M.D. List.  2007.  Habitat mapping and conservation analysis to identify critical streams for Arizona’s native fish.  Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 17:  737-748.
  • U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service:  http://www.fws.gov.

Conservation Status Symbol Definitions (from AZGFD)

Symbols used by Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD)

  • S1         Critically Imperiled: Extremely rare or some factor(s) is making the species especially vulnerable to extirpation.  Typically 5 or fewer locations or very few remaining individuals (<1,000).
  • S2         Imperiled:  Rare or some factor(s) is making the species very vulnerable to extirpation. Typically 6 to 20 occurrences or few remaining individuals (1,000 to 3,000).
  • S3         Vulnerable:  Rare or found only in a restricted range (even if abundant at some locations), or because of other factors making it vulnerable to extirpation.  Typically 21 to 100 occurrences or between 3,000 and 10,000 individuals.
  • S4         Apparently Secure:  Uncommon but not rare, and usually widespread.  Usually more than 100 occurrences* and more than 10,000 individuals.  Possible long-term concern.
  • S5         Secure:  Common, widespread, and abundant.  Safe under present conditions.  Typically with considerably more than 100 locations and more than 10,000 individuals.
  • SH         Possibly Extirpated (Historical): Historically present, and there is some expectation that the species may be rediscovered.
  • SX         Presumed Extinct:  Not located despite intensive searches of historical sites and other appropriate habitat, and virtually no likelihood that it will be rediscovered.
  • S#S#:   Indicates the range of uncertainty about exact status (e.g., S3S4).
  • E:          Exotic Origin:  Species is not native to AZ.

Symbols Used for the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
(US Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service)

  • LE         Listed Endangered:  Imminent jeopardy of extinction.
  • LT         Listed Threatened:  Imminent jeopardy of becoming Endangered.
  • XN        Experimental Nonessential population.
  • PDL      Proposed for delisting.
  • No        (No Status) Certain populations of this taxon do not have designated status (check with state or regional USFWS office for details about which populations have designated status).
  • PE         Proposed Endangered
  • C           Candidate:  Species for which the USFWS has on file sufficient information on biological vulnerability and threats to support proposals to list as Endangered or Threatened under ESA. Proposed rules for these species is precluded at present by other higher priority listing actions.
  • C*         The Service identifies species for which they made a continued warranted-but-precluded finding on a resubmitted petition by the code “C*” in the category column.
  • SC         Species of Concern:  Describes the entire realm of taxa whose conservation status may be of concern to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, but does not have official federal status.

A R I Z O N A   F I S H

SCIENTIFIC NAME

COMMON NAME

AZ

ESA

Acipenser transmontanus

White Sturgeon

SEH

No

Agosia chrysogaster

Longfin Dace

S3S4

SC

Agosia chrysogaster chrysogaster

Gila Longfin Dace

S3S4

SC

Agosia chrysogaster ssp. 1

Yaqui Longfin Dace

S1

SC

Ambloplites rupestris

Rock Bass

SEH

Ameiurus melas

Black Bullhead

SE5

Ameiurus natalis

Yellow Bullhead

SE2

Ameiurus nebulosus

Brown Bullhead

SE1

Anguilla rostrata

American Eel

SEH

Anisotremus davidsonii

Sargo

SE1

Archoplites interruptus

Sacramento Perch

SEH

Astyanax mexicanus

Mexican Tetra

SEH

Bairdiella icistia

Bairdiella

SEH

Campostoma ornatum

Mexican Stoneroller

S1

SC

Carassius auratus

Goldfish

SE4

Catostomus ardens

Utah Sucker

SEH

Catostomus bernardini

Yaqui Sucker

SX

Catostomus clarkii

Desert Sucker

S3S4

SC

Catostomus discobolus

Bluehead Sucker

S3

PS

Catostomus discobolus discobolus

Bluehead Sucker

S3

Catostomus discobolus yarrowi

Zuni Bluehead Sucker

S1

PE

Catostomus insignis

Sonora Sucker

S3

SC

Catostomus latipinnis

Flannelmouth Sucker

S2

SC

Catostomus plebeius

Rio Grande Sucker

SER

Catostomus sp. 3

Little Colorado Sucker

S2

SC

Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum

Convict Cichlid

SE

Clarias batrachus

Walking Catfish

SER

Cottus bairdii

Mottled Sculpin

SE1

Ctenopharyngodon idella

Grass Carp

SE2

Cynoscion xanthulus

Orangemouth Corvina

SEH

Cyprinella formosa

Beautiful Shiner

S1

LT

Cyprinodon arcuatus

Santa Cruz Pupfish

SX

Cyprinodon eremus

Quitobaquito Pupfish

S1

LE

Cyprinodon macularius

Desert Pupfish

S1

LE

Cyprinus carpio

Common Carp

SE5

Dorosoma petenense

Threadfin Shad

SE5

Eleotris picta

Spotted Sleeper

SA

Elops affinis

Machete

SA

Esox lucius

Northern Pike

SE3

Fundulus zebrinus

Plains Killifish

SE1

Gambusia affinis

Mosquitofish

SE5

Gila atraria

Utah Chub

SE1

Gila cypha

Humpback Chub

S1

LE

Gila ditaenia

Sonora Chub

S1

LT

Gila elegans

Bonytail

S1

LE

Gila intermedia

Gila Chub

S2

LE

Gila nigra

Headwater Chub

S2

C

Gila purpurea

Yaqui Chub

S1

LE

Gila robusta

Roundtail Chub

S2

C*

Gila seminuda

Virgin River Chub

S1

LE

Gillichthys mirabilis

Longjaw Mudsucker

SE2

Ictalurus furcatus

Blue Catfish

SE1

Ictalurus pricei

Yaqui Catfish

S1

LT

Ictalurus punctatus

Channel Catfish

SE5

Ictiobus bubalus

Smallmouth Buffalo

SE1

Ictiobus cyprinellus

Bigmouth Buffalo

SE1

Ictiobus niger

Black Buffalo

SE1

Lepidomeda mollispinis

Virgin Spinedace

S1

No

Lepidomeda mollispinis mollispinis

Virgin Spinedace

S1

SC

Lepidomeda vittata

Little Colorado Spinedace

S1S2

LT

Lepomis cyanellus

Green Sunfish

SE5

Lepomis gibbosus

Pumpkinseed

SE2

Lepomis gulosus

Warmouth

SE3

Lepomis macrochirus

Bluegill

SE5

Lepomis microlophus

Redear Sunfish

SE4

Meda fulgida

Spikedace

S1

LE

Micropterus dolomieu

Smallmouth Bass

SE5

Micropterus punctulatus

Spotted Bass

SEH

Micropterus salmoides

Largemouth Bass

SE5

Morone chrysops

White Bass

SE2

Morone mississippiensis

Yellow Bass

SE2

Morone saxatilis

Striped Bass

SE4

Mugil cephalus

Striped Mullet

S1

Notemigonus crysoleucas

Golden Shiner

SE4

Notropis lutrensis

Red Shiner

SE5

Notropis stramineus

Sand Shiner

SEH

Notropis venustus

Spottail Shiner

SEH

Oncorhynchus apache

Apache Trout

S3

LT

Oncorhynchus clarkii

Cutthroat Trout

SE3

No

Oncorhynchus gilae

Gila Trout

S1

LT

Oncorhynchus kisutch

Coho Salmon

SE2

Oncorhynchus mykiss

Rainbow Trout

SE5

Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita

Golden Trout

SE1

Oncorhynchus nerka

Sockeye Salmon

SE1

Oreochromis aureus

Blue Tilapia

SE5

Oreochromis mossambicus

Mozambique Tilapia

SE4

Perca flavescens

Yellow Perch

SE2

Pimephales promelas

Fathead Minnow

SE5

Plagopterus argentissimus

Woundfin

S1

LE,XN

Poecilia latipinna

Sailfin Molly

SE3

Poecilia mexicana

Shortfin Molly

SE1

Poecilia reticulata

Guppy

SE1

Poeciliopsis occidentalis

See: AFCNC05021

S2

LE

Poeciliopsis occidentalis occidentalis

Gila Topminnow

S1S2

LE

Poeciliopsis occidentalis sonoriensis

Yaqui Topminnow

S1

LE

Pomoxis annularis

White Crappie

SE1

Pomoxis nigromaculatus

Black Crappie

SE5

Ptychocheilus lucius

Colorado Pikeminnow

S1

LE,XN

Pylodictis olivaris

Flathead Catfish

SE4

Rhinichthys osculus

Speckled Dace

S3S4

SC

Richardsonius balteatus

Redside Shiner

SE2

Salmo trutta

Brown Trout

SE5

Salvelinus fontinalis

Brook Trout

SE5

Sander vitreus

Walleye

SE4

Thymallus arcticus

Arctic Grayling

SE1

No

Tiaroga cobitis

Loach Minnow

S1

LE

Tilapia zillii

Redbelly Tilapia

SE1

Xiphophorus hellerii

Green Swordtail

SE1

Xiphophorus variatus

Variable Platyfish

SE1

Xyrauchen texanus

Razorback Sucker

S1

LE

5 thoughts on “Arizona Fish Update–November 2013

  1. Pingback: Fish are Sentient and Emotional Beings and Clearly Feel Pain | GarryRogers Nature Conservation

  2. Pingback: Arizona Wildlife in Danger | The Blog Farm

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