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Captive Rearing and Propagation of Critically Endangered Moapa Dace


October 2011 - December 2017


Moapa Dace Moapa coriacea is a critically endangered cyprinid endemic to the Warm Springs area of Clark County, Nevada. Moapa Dace were federally listed as endangered because of their limited range, low abundance, and competition with introduced species. Prior to this work, Moapa Dace had never been successfully held in captivity for any length of time. In an effort to develop a protocol for rearing and propagating Moapa Dace in captivity, 40 fish were collected in February 2013, and an additional group of 30 fish were collected in January 2014. We were able to successfully transport and rear Moapa Dace employing slow acclimation and aggressive prophylactic treatment; feeding adults with a combination of live and frozen invertebrates and commercially available pelleted foods; and providing an artificial stream environment to them. To attempt to spawn Moapa Dace, we applied 14 different treatments, including introduction of different types of cover and different sized substrates; manipulations of photoperiod, water chemistry, and temperature; and application of hormone baths and injections. Moapa Dace were successfully propagated in one treatment left ongoing for over three months. This treatment occurred in an artificial stream and incorporated 14 broodstock from the second capture period, an additional submersible pump to direct an increased velocity along gravel and cobble substrate, and a variety of substrate sizes and artificial plants. To successfully rear and captively propagate Moapa Dace, biologists should take great care with acclimating Moapa Dace, and provide an environment similar to that experienced by fish in the wild, incorporating stream conditions and minimal human disturbance. This work was prepared for a thesis, and a peer-reviewed final report was published in December 2015. This work is currently under review for journal publication with the North American Journal of Aquaculture. Partners include the USFWS.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Ruggirello, J. E., S. A. Bonar, O. G. Feuerbacher, L. Simons, and C. Powers. 2015. Spawning Ecology and Captive Husbandry of Endangered Moapa Dace. Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Research Report, Tucson.


  • Ruggirello, Jack E. 2014. Spawning Ecology and Captive Husbandry of Endangered Moapa Dace. MS. Thesis, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.


  • Ruggirello, J. E., S. A. Bonar, and O. G. Feuerbacher. 2013. Spawning ecology of the critically endangered Moapa Dace revealed through underwater videography. 143nd Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Little Rock, Arkansas, September 8-12, 2013. CONTRIBUTED.
  • Ruggirello, J., S. Bonar, and O. Feuerbacher. 2013. Spawning ecology of the endangered Moapa dace revealed through underwater videography. 45th Annual Meeting of the Desert Fishes Council. November 20-24, Flagstaff, Arizona.
  • Ruggirello, J., S. Bonar and O. Feuerbacher. 2013. An attempt to spawn endangered Moapa dace in captivity. 45th Annual Meeting of the Desert Fishes Council. November 20-24, Flagstaff, Arizona.
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Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 240

Phd Students: 143

Post Docs: 52

University Staff: 245

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 702

Scientific Publications: 1948

Presentations: 4253



Funding Agencies

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey