Arabian Pupfish


Name: Arabian Pupfish

Local name: Efti

Scientific name: Aphanius dispar

Classification: Class: ray-finned fishes; Order: killifishes; Family: pupfishes (Cyprinodontidae)

Size: Females may reach 6 cm in total length and males 8 cm.


The Arabian Pupfish is found in a wide range of habitats. It usually occurs inshore in shallow waters, near corals in coastal lagoons, intertidal channels and in mangrove areas. It is adapted to a very wide range of temperatures and salinities, from hypersaline conditions to pure freshwater. It is an omnivorous surface feeder, feeding on algae and small invertebrates. In freshwater it feeds particularly on mosquito larvae. In mangroves, it spawns in areas with an abundance of roots and floating plants.


It occurs in the seas surrounding the Arabian Peninsula with numerous landlocked freshwater populations. It ranges from the Tigris-Euphrates drainage, via the Arabian Gulf, eastwards to India, westwards to Somalia and throughout the Red Sea.

Conservation status:

In the global assessment of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species the species has been classified as Least Concern (LC). It has no importance to fisheries, but is widely used as a biological control agent of mosquito larvae.


This species is characterized by a chubby body and nearly flat top of head. Fins have no spines. There is a single dorsal fin, the origin of which is anterior to that of the anal fin, and the posterior margin of the caudal fin is truncate. The species shows a pronounced sexual dimorphism with enlarged fins in males; dorsal fins of large males may reach the base of the caudal fin when depressed. Males are dark greyish blue dorsally and golden on flanks with small, irregular, shining blue to pale blotches and usually three dark bars on the caudal fin. Females are dark silvery greyish dorsally and lighter silvery on the flanks with narrow dark bars.