Nevada Fish & Wildlife Office
Pacific Southwest Region

(Plagopterus argentissimus)

Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Cyprinidae
Genus: Plagopterus
Species: argentissimus
Length: up to 3 inches
Lifespan: 2 to 3 years
Feed: detritus, algae, seeds, and aquatic insects and their larvae
Habitat: The woundfin occupies seasonally swift, warm, highly turpid, small to medium rivers, with constantly shifting substrates.

Official Status:

Endangered and Experimental Population, Non-Essential

Life History:

The woundfin is a small (about two inches in length) minnow usually found in the main channel of swift, turbid, warm streams over sand substrate. Woundfin diets are quite varied, consisting of insects, insect larvae, other invertebrates, algae, and detritus. The species spawns during the spring in swift shallow water over gravel substrate. Eggs are fertilized in the water and then fall to the bottom; no parental care is given to the eggs or young.


Distribution and Habitat:

  Historically, the woundfin occupied much of the lower Colorado River basin, including two tributaries, the Virgin River and part of the Gila River; however, habitat destruction through dams and water development has led to its extirpation from these regions. In addition, several introduced species, most notably the red shiner (Cyprinella lutrensis) have contributed to a decrease in the woundfin's Virgin River population. The woundfin is currently federally listed as an endangered species, while the United States Fish and Wildlife Service lists the population status as "declining."

The woundfin tolerates highly mineralized, turbid waters. It is typically found in warm, swift streams of high turbidity, preferring a stream speed of one to two feet per second and a depth of eight to eighteen inches. Woundfin lives in part of salty streams, avoiding clear waters and rarely can be found in quieter pools.



With red shiner no longer a threat, low flows and high temperatures are the biggest threats still facing wounfin.


Actions / Current Information:


  Date Title
  10/20/2009 Woundfin spotlight species action plan
Last updated: April 16, 2014