Fish and Aquatic Conservation

illustration of a ComancheSprings Pupfish

Comanche Springs pupfish

Cyprinodon elegans, (Baird & Girard, 1853)

Cool Facts

The actual spring the Comanche Springs Pupfish was named after dried up in the 1950’s. As a result, the population of pupfish inhabiting that spring became extinct.

SIZE: Common length for the Comanche Springs Pupfish is 3.8 cm (1.5 in) with the maximum reported length for this species being 6.2 cm (2.4 in).

RANGE: The Comanche Spring Pupfish historically inhabited two areas 90 miles apart within the Pecos River drainages within Texas. The Comanche Spring Pupfish now resides in a small series of springs, their outflows, and system of irrigation canals and ditches connecting Phantom Lake Springs, San Solomon Springs, Griffin Springs and Toya Creek near Balmorhea, Reeves County, Texas.

HABITAT: The Comanche Spring Pupfish inhabits fresh water springs and associated marshes and canals. This species usually occurs over mud in a current. The Comanche Springs pupfish is well adapted to its harsh habitat and can tolerate a large range of salinities and temperatures up to 40.5 degrees Celsius (104.9 degrees Fahrenheit).

DIET: The Comanche Springs pupfish feeds on small invertebrates and algae.

Natural History

This species of pupfish has no distinct breeding season and can spawn throughout the year. Comanche Springs Pupfish spawning occurs in various sites ranging from fast flowing water (spring outflows) to standing water. The male Comanche Springs Pupfish has three mating strategies, (1) territorial defense, (2) satellite positioning and (3) sneak spawning. Although most Comanche Springs Pupfish live for less than a year, they can actually live for up to two years.


Conservation actions implemented to help the Comanche Springs Pupfish include the moderating of water level fluctuations and the building of a man made refugium and cienega in Balmorhea State Park in Reeves County, Texas.

The Comanche Springs Pupfish was federally listed as an Endangered species in 1967 due to habitat loss and degradation, competition with non-native species and possible hybridization with the Sheepshead minnow (Cyprinodon variegatus).