Fish and Aquatic Conservation

illustration of a Devils Hole Pupfish

Devils Hole pupfish

Cyprinodon diabolis, (Wales, 1930)

Cool Facts

In 1952, the Devils Hole Pool, in what was previously Nye County, Nevada was incorporated into the Death Valley National Monument in California. The life span of the desert pupfish is estimated at 6 to 12 months.

SIZE: The common length for this species of pupfish 2.3 cm (0.9 in) with a maximum recorded length of 3.0 cm (1.2 in).

RANGE: The Devils Hole pupfish range is restricted to “Devils Hole”, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Death Valley National Monument in California.

HABITAT: Devils Hole pool is found in the very arid Death Valley National Monument in California. Devils Hole is 2.5 by 3.5 meters (8 ft. 2 in. by 11ft. 6in.) in area and is composed of two distinct areas. One area is a limestone rock shelf that 3.5 by 5.0 meters (11 ft. 6 in. by 16 ft. 5 in.) and 0.3 meters (11.8 in.) deep. The second area is 3.5 by 17.0 meters (11 ft. by 55 ft. 10 in.) in area and an unknown depth. The Devils Hole pupfish resides in the upper 80 ft. (24.38 m) of the body of water, with half of the population residing on the limestone shelf. The temperature of the water remains a constant 33 to 34 degrees Celsius (91.4 to 93.3 degrees Fahrenheit).

DIET: Devils Hole pupfish feed primarily on algae that grows on the limestone shelf. Diatoms are a major food source in the winter and spring while Spirogyra serve as the food source in the summer and fall. Devils Hole pupfish spend most of their time feeding on the south end of the limestone shelf.

Natural History

The Devils Hole pupfish lives in deep limestone pools. This entire population of pupfish feed and breeds within 20 square meters in a limestone ledge along one side of Devils Hole, Nevada.


In 1982, the Devils Hole pupfish was listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an Endangered Species under the Endangered Species Act. In 1984, the Nature Conservancy purchased Ash Meadows and the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge was created. The establishment of the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge has allowed for the subsequent management and protection of this unique and endangered fish species.