Fish Index


Plain Minnow

White Sands Pupfish

Fat Head Minnow

Mosquito Fish

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow

Kokanee Salmon

Brook Trout

Colorado Cutthroat trout



Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico      Page Author: Ashley Kirkpatrick


Species common name(s): plain minnow

Scientific Name: Hybognathus placitus




Range: Canadian and Dry Cimarron; Pecos from Puerto de Luna downstream Malaga; on the east slope drainage of the Rocky Mountains south from the Missouri River drainage of the Montana River to the Colorado River drainage of Texas; the Plains minnow is found in the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge.


Habitat: In New Mexico, the plains minnow appears along main channels of major streams and a short distance up tributary streams; it travels in groups, or schools. It prefers clear to highly turbid waters with sandy floors, high levels of conductivity, and slight to medium erratic flows; the plains minnow favors water temperatures from 17 degrees to 21 degrees Celsius. 


Physical Description: The back is olive-colored; the sides are silvery; the stomach is a white-cream. The shape of the body is thick at the head and progressively gets smaller. The length is about 95 mm.


Main foods: Omnivores (eat plants and animals); algae; animals such as crustaceans; insects; scrapes algae, diatoms, and other microflora from rocks, aquatic snags, and plant roots found on the stream bottom.

Behavior: It travels in schools. Spawning occurs during the seasons of spring and summer. It lays eggs during high flow.

Niche: Because of its introduction into the Pecos drainage, numbers of the Hybognathus amarus, a native species to that area, have decreased. (the common name for the H. amarus is the Rio Grande silvery minnow)

Interactions with other species: It is eaten by larger species of fish.


Threats to the species: Larger species of fish; decreased water quality; non-point pollution; degradation of riparian areas



Sources: x  main/species/010296.htm

The Fishes of New Mexico by the University of New Mexico Press



Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico           Page Author: Kyle Larsen


Species common name(s): white sands pupfish

Scientific Name: Cyprinodon tularosa miller and echelle



Range: The pupfish is found in small, salty, rivers, springs, and lakes in southern New Mexico and the Tularosa basin.

Taxonomy: kingdom: Animalia  phulum: Chordata class: Osteichthyes order:Cyprinodontiformes  family: Cyprinodontidae genus: Cyprinodon species:Tularosa

Habitat: The pupfish lives in salt water that can become up to five times as salty as ocean water. They live in the desert parts of New Mexico where it is very warm and dry.

Physical Description: Pupfish are about two inches long and have stripes down the side of their body. When the male pupfish wants to mate his scales turn a metalic blue on his dorsal and orange on their side fins.

Main foods: The pupfish eats algae and mosquito larva and will also eat their own eggs. They also eat insects that live in the water as well as small pieces of plants. 

Behavior: The pupfish mainly swims around and eats when it is hungry. It will also try to mate.

Niche: The pupfish are omnivorous and only eat other animals that can’t defend themselves. They are very low on the food chain and their biggest threat is basically any other surrounding animal that wants to try to catch and eat one.  

Threats to the species: The main threat of the pupfish is keeping its water. Since they live in small ponds, marshes, and springs keeping their water is very important. Also since their habitat is so enriched with salt it will be hard to reintroduce them into another habitat without the same characteristics.



Book: The Fishes of New Mexico, authors James E. Sublette, Michael D. Hatch, Mary Sublette. Page 252-254.


Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico           Page Author: Rebekah Ballengee


Species common name(s): Fathead Minnow, Blackhead Minnow, Rosy-Red

Scientific Name: Pimephales promelas











 Range: They range all over New Mexico. They range from east of the Rockies to Quebec southern. The Great Plains and into Mexico is more of their place.


Habitat: In warm water, 70 degrees Fahrenheit, lakes and streams. 


Physical Description: They have a triangular head. They are somewhere between 1 to 4 inches. They are silvery gray with a dark stripe that is evidant.


Main foods: Their main food is zooplankton, but will eat microscopic plants, larvae, small insects, and every once in a while, fish.

Behavior: Their spawning usually happens at night and the male will do more than one female. The male will stay with the nest of eggs, which is located undersomething solid.

Niche: They are extermely easy aand fast to breed.

Interactions with other species: They compete with a similar fish, brook sticklebacks, for food resource. They are used as bait with catfish. They are eaten by amphibians, reptiles, other fishes, turtles, water snakes, semi-aquatic lizards, so they are interact with these animals by being great bait or food.


Threats to the species:  One big problem with the fishes, they are known as bait. They can have parasites and other health problems because of the overcrowding and poor care.





Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico          


Page Author: Katie Rinehimer


Species common name(s): Mosquito Fish

Scientific Name: Gambusia affinis


 Range: The Mosquito fish was originally found from southern Indiana and Illinois, and south to Florida and northwards along the Atlantic coast to New Jersey. Then they were released in Mexico, and south to the Rio Cazones, Veracruz.


Habitat: They can be safely and effectively introduced into all irrigation systems, drainage systems, ponds, reservoirs, cisterns, shallow wells, watering troughs, and seepage areas; basically any standing water habitat that holds water all year round.

Physical Description: These fish are a greenish-white or a light brownish-green. Mature females can be from 2 to 2.5 inches long, and males can be from 1 to 1.5 inches. Females can reach maturity in six to eight weeks.

Main foods: These fish mostly eat mosquitoes, mostly their larva, but occasionally, the adults as well, as the name suggests. But they also eat other bugs, and, if kept in a tank as a pet, they eat exotic fish food. In ponds meant for decorations and un-chlorinated swimming pools, they will eat mosquito larvae as fast as they hatch.

Behavior: The females have three to four ‘broods’ of offspring in a season; the first may contain only a dozen offspring, but later ‘broods’ can include 60 to 100 offspring. In good conditions, mosquito fish can live up to two to three years.

Niche: This fish is used to help reduce mosquito breeding in waters, hence their name. Their adaptability, hardiness, and ability to produce large numbers of offspring in a short time make them perfect for this job.

Interactions with other species: They are ‘prized’ because they are so adaptable and they help to keep the mosquito population down. They will compete with other fish for food and space to live.


Threats to the species: They are most often threatened by building in their environment, but these fish are very adaptable, so they are able to stay alive in some of the worst conditions.




Environmental Science Field Guide to New Mexico           Page Author: Liz Zeni


Species common name(s): Rio Grande Silvery Minnow

Scientific Name: Hybognathus amarus


 Range: This species was used to be one of the most abundant and widespread fishes in the Rio Grande Basin, and a lot of different places in New Mexico, but they are becoming extinct, so now they are just found in the Rio Grande between Cochiti Dam and Elephant Butte Reservoir.


Habitat:  Its habitat is in the Rio Grande River. It cannot survive out of the water. It lives in back waters, shallow side channels, eddies (a pool with water moving opposite to that in the river channel) and runs (flowing water in the river channel without obstructions.)


Physical Description: It is a stout silvery minnow with moderately small eyes and a small mouth. Adults may reach 3.5 inches in total length.


Main foods: They are herbivores, so they eat river plants and benthic macroinvertabrates, but it really has not been documented exactly what species they eat, because it’s hard to get into their stomach.

Behavior: They usually swim around skimming the bottom of the river or stream. They also spend much of their lives laying eggs.

Niche: They eat the bad algae in the water so in turn they help keep the water clean. They are also a source of food for a lot of other animals.

Interactions with other species: The silvery minnow do not really prey on other benthic creatures; they just eat what they can find and what is easy. They are a source of food for other organisms.


Threats to the species: Their habitats are being interfered with because of weather and drought. Also, decreased and interrupted stream flows caused by impoundments are affecting the little fishies. The silvery minnow may also be affected by interactions with non-native fish and decreasing water quality in its native streams. In turn the silvery minnow are having major things happening for them to try and relocate them in a suitable environment.















































Species Name: Kokanee Salmon

Scientific Name: Oncorhynchus nerka




Range: In North America, Kokanee are found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, New Mexico, California and other western states as well as eastern states such as New York and Maine.


Habitat: The Kokanee is the landlocked version of the sockeye salmon. They live in in-land, cool, and well oxygenated lakes across the state.


Physical Description: Kokanee salmon is a slender fish with a blue-green back and top of the head, iridescent silver on the sides and white or silver on the belly.


Main foods: Small zooplankton and immature insects, and as they mature will eat smaller fish.

Behavior: As they live their entire lives in the freshwater lake in which they were spawned, they have no migratory behaviors and exhibit very little variations to their everyday existence.

Niche: They used to migrate from freshwater lakes to the ocean and live happily there, but hundreds of years ago something happened and prevented them from leaving the fresh waters. So, naturally, they adapted.

Interactions with other species: they are eaten by ospreys and fishermen.


Threats to the species:  The fish are widely hunted for sport. Their red, oily, high-quality flesh can be cooked in a variety of ways or canned, and are difficult to catch, because they eat primarily plankton.






Environmental Science Field Guide              Page Author: Ryan Rembold

Common Name: Brook trout

Specific Name: Salvelinus fontinalis

                                                                    brook trout


Range: The Brook trout live in cold water streams and lakes. In New Mexico the live in the Rio Grande but have never been introduced in to the San Juan Drainage.


Habitat:  Brook trout live in cold water streams and lakes. Examples of these areas in New Mexico is river streams and rivers along with lakes and revivoirs.


Physical Description: The Brook trout is generally 10-12 inches long thought there has been larger trout that have been caught recorded. They weigh 4-6 pounds and are olive-green in color to bark brown with silver spots on their bodies.


Main foods: The Brook trout is carnivores and eats aquatic insects through out its life as its main source of food. Thought it might eat other bugs that fall into the water it generally sticks to a regular diet.

Behavior:  They spend there lives swimming along the stream untill they reach a river in which they then move to a larger body of water. When mating season comes around the fish will retrace their paths and migrate back to where they where born to spawn again.

Niche: Though they live in the streams their mainly eaten by humans and birds of prey such as the golden eagle. Humans fish for these trout as a food source.

Interactions with other species:  The Brook trout is not an aggressive fish and tends to get along with other fish. During mating season hybrids between brook trout and tiger trout have been known to occur.


Threats to the species:  The main threat to this species is enviermental destruction whether through pollution or change in stream/river flow and so on. Another threat is when over crowding with other species kill them of. This has been recorded happening with rainbow trout.




Species common name(s): Colorado cutthroat trout              Page Author: Sarah Connors

Scientific Name: Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticus


Range:   The Colorado River cutthroat trout lives in cool water habitats of Colorado, southern Wyoming, eastern Utah, extreme northwestern New Mexico, and northeastern Arizona.

Habitat:  The Colorado River cutthroat trout needs clear, cold water, natural flows, and small levels of fine sediment in channels, stream banks, and a large amount of trees.

Physical Description:  The lower jaw of the fish has orange spots. The body is a brown, yellow color.  The fin and dorsal of the fish have black spots on them.                                                                                                                                         

Main Foods: They eat zooplankton, insects, and crustaceans.

Behavior: The cutthroat trout lay their eggs in late winter or early spring compared to most fish who la their eggs in the spring. The female lays makes one or more eggs that hatch in 6-7 weeks.

Niche: They serve as food purposes.

Interactions with other species: They feed other animals, and eat off the bugs.

Threats: The population went down because of stocking and spread of non-native trout, and habitat loss due to livestock grazing, water diversion, logging, roads, mining and other factors, which worsen stream conditions required by these trout.