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Phoenix Area Office

Native Aquatic Species of the Gila River Basin
in Arizona and New Mexico

Hatchery Refuge and Propagation

Reclamationís active native fish conservation program has grown to the point where there is a need for a hatchery in which to acquire, house, and propagate (reproduce) rare populations of native species. Native species are often genetically unique, irreplaceable, and continuing to decline or disappear. This level of protection serves as insurance against catastrophic losses in the wild (for instance, due to forest fires or major droughts).

Bubbling Ponds Native Fish Hatchery - Circular and linear racewaysFor this purpose the Bubbling Ponds Native Fishes Conservation Facility was established under the Gila River Basin Native Fishes Conservation Program. The Conservation Facility is located at the Arizona Game and Fish Departmentís Bubbling Ponds Hatchery near Cornville, Arizona. Its primary purpose is to insure against losses of wild populations, provide stock for efforts to reintroduce species into the wild, and to research artificial reproduction methods for native fishes. The facility also serves as the primary treatment site for prevention of diseases in native fishes that are to be transplanted within the Gila River basin.

Bubbling Ponds Hatchery - facility serving primary housing and propagationArtificial methods for reproduction of most Gila River basin native species were unknown, so a building was designed to conduct research and develop techniques. A second structure became necessary to enable larger-scale activities and house the resulting fish populations. An artesian well provides water to 24 circular fish tanks. These tanks are electricity-independent and maintain a constant temperature in water that is free of bacteria or viruses that could infect the fish. Experience and observation eventually led to building rectangular tanks and small ponds to meet the preferences of different fish species.

Bubbling Ponds Hatchery - Concrete-lined ponds, showing research buildingThe facility is currently housing and supporting the reproduction of threatened spikedace (Meda fulgida) populations from the mainstem Gila and West Fork Gila rivers in New Mexico and Aravaipa Creek in Arizona; threatened loach minnow (Tiaroga cobitis) populations from the West Fork Gila River in New Mexico and Blue River and Aravaipa Creek in Arizona; and a candidate-for-listing roundtail chub (Gila robusta) population from Eagle Creek, Arizona. Offspring from the hatchery facility have been reintroduced in Arizona at Fossil Creek, Bonita Creek, Redfield Canyon, and Hot Springs Canyon.

Last Reviewed:
December 19, 2011

Joseph J. Billerbeck - jbillerbeck@usbr.gov