Etheostoma lugoi Norris & Minckley
Tufa darter, dardo de toba

PERCIDAE - perches, pikeperches, and darters





38 mm SL as adult female, largest male 35 mm, rarely >35 mm

Conservation Status

Considered endangered by the American Fisheries Society in 1989 (in part).


Restricted to spring-fed streams in the southwestern quarter of the Cuatro Ciénegas basin, Coahuila, Mexico, where mostly in the mainstream Rio Mesquites and its immediate tributaries.


Rare in strongly flowing, highly localized areas. Its apparent rareness may be due in part to its spotty distribution and the heterogeneity of bottoms it inhabits.

Habitat & Ecology

This fish most often occupies open (unvegetated) although complex bottoms on bars comprised of gravel- to cobble-sized fragments of tufa and tufa stromatolites. Shoals created by formation of these bars promote strong, low-turbulence currents so substrates remain scoured of algae, silt, and detritus. Bottom relief is only a few centimeters, but irregularity of tufa produces diverse crevices and miniature caves for the bottom-dwelling fish as well as habitat for its presumed invertebrate foods


Essentially nothing is known of the reproductive habitats or habitats. Males in apparent breeding coloration have been taken in April.


Extraction of groundwater within and adjacent to springs reduces downflow water volumes diminishing the available habitat. As with other Cuatro Cienegas fishes, non-indigenous crayfish, molluscs, and perhaps fishes (one, a cichlid of the genus Hemichromis is confirmed as naturalized in an adjacent watershed) may be anticipated to result in ecosystem-level changes that undoubtedly will influence this species in the near future.

Conservation Actions

A substantial proportion of the Cuatro Cienegas basin, including most streams inhabited by this diminutive darter, were set aside in 1994 as a biological preserve. Specific conservation actions are, however, yet to be proposed or implemented.

Conservation Recommendations

Devise and implement conservation actions preventing further loss and change of habitat and prohibit introductions of non-indigenous organisms. Especially needed are provisions to maintain lateral and downflow marshes, which are quickly and permanently drained by canalization of springheads.

Important References


W. L. Minckley, Department of Zoology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287-1501. 1 June 1998.

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