The primary mission of the SMARC is to provide support for, and undertake research on aquatic endangered, threatened, and species at risk.


Tours are available by appointment only. Most visitation is discouraged due to the the Covid-19 pandemic.

About Us

The San Marcos Aquatic Resources Center is part of the National Fish Hatchery System - a network of fish hatcheries, fish health centers, fish technology centers, and the Aquatic Animal Drug Approval Partnership program. Together they provide services that help us manage aquatic resources, protect the health of our wild and hatchery-raised fish, and recover threatened and endangered species. The unparalleled conservation efforts of this system not only enhance aquatic species and their habitats, but also improve fishing opportunities for our Nation’s 58 million recreational anglers.  

The San Marcos Aquatic Resources Center plays a leading role in guiding the science and technology that is foundational to species and habitat conservation in the United States, including assisting with the recovery of endangered, threatened, and declining populations of fish and other aquatic species, preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
, and improving fish culture technology and culture protocols.

Fish Tech Centersplay a leading role in guiding the science and technology that is foundational to species and habitat conservation in the United States, including assisting with the recovery of endangered, threatened, and declining fish stocks, and improving fish hatchery culture technology and culture protocols.

In the late 1800s, our station was the first Federal, warm-water fish hatchery west of the Mississippi. Originally located on land adjacent to the San Marcos River, which is now Texas State University, the station was relocated to 116 acres of land south of the City of San Marcos. We transitioned from a traditional fish hatchery to a research facility, beginning in the mid-1970s. 

Our station is co-located with the Texas Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office.

What We Do

The mission of the San Marcos Aquatic Resources Center is to support conservation efforts through applied research on species that are endangered, threatened, and at risk. The center is a refugium – or safe harbor – for endangered species. Major consideration is placed on assessment of biological issues related to the springs of the Edwards Aquifer and other west Texas spring systems.  

Our Organization

  • Edwards Aquifer Species Conservation
  • Invertebrate and Amphibian Conservation
  • Plant Ecology and Habitat Restoration

Our Species

The San Marcos Aquatic Resources Center conducts research on many aquatic species, including plants, freshwater mussels, crustaceans, insects, salamanders, toads, and fish. We have the largest captive population of Texas blind salamanders in the world. 

A small, translucent and eyeless salamander walks toward camera.

Eurycea rathbuni (= Typhlomolge rathbuni), the Texas blind salamander, is restricted in its distribution to the Edwards aquifer artesian and recharge zone in the vicinity of San Marcos, Hays County, Texas. It is subterranean but individuals may reach the surface via springs.

FWS Focus
a silvery fish with dark spots resting on rocks among algae

The fountain darters is among the smallest of the darters. Adults generally range from 19 to 30 mm total length. It is known only from the Comal Springs - River system in New Braunfels and the San Marcos Springs - River system in San Marcos, Texas.

FWS Focus
Picture of a thin brown San Marcos salamander resting in green aquatic vegetation.

The San Marcos salamander is endemic to the San Marcos Springs and nearby surface and subterranean aquatic habitats. This species is known primarily from rocky habitats and submerged aquatic vegetation in and near springs of Spring Lake, parts of Spring Lake Dam, and nearby parts of the upper...

FWS Focus
Barton Springs Salamander

Barton Springs salamanders have slender bodies with elongated limbs, flattened snouts, and three pairs of bright red external gills. They have four toes on their front feet and five on their hind feet; they also have short, finned tails with single orange-yellow stripes. The small amphibians...

FWS Focus

Projects and Research

  • Freshwater mussel propagation
  • Spring invertebrate ecology and identification
  • Houston toad propagation and reintroduction
  • San Marcos salamander reproduction
  • Texas blind salamander reproduction
  • Toxicity research for Barton Springs salamanders
  • Captive propagation of Pecks cave amphipods
  • Captive propagation and husbandry of Comal Springs riffle beetles
  • Captive propagation and husbandry of Comal Springs drypoid beetles
  • Captive and wild population genetics of Texas wild rice
  • Seed and Seedling growth and development of Texas wild rice
  • Texas wild rice population monitoring and assessment

Visit Us

Visitation is by appointment only.  Most visitation is discouraged due to the the Covid-19 pandemic.

Get Involved

Whether you want to further conservation, learn more about nature or share your love of the outdoors, you’ve come to the right place. National fish hatcheries provide many opportunities for you to help your community and fish and wildlife by doing what you love.

Location and Contact Information