The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed endangered species protection for the Zuni bluehead sucker plus nearly 300 stream miles of proposed critical habitat in Arizona and New Mexico.
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned for federal protection for the rare fish in 2004.
The bluehead sucker is found in the Zuni River watershed in New Mexico, the Little Colorado River watershed in eastern Arizona and Canyon de Chelly in northeastern Arizona.
The 8-inch fish has a torpedo-shaped body, bluish head and silvery-tan to dark-green coloration with black mottling.
Environmentalists say the bluehead sucker has been lost from more than 90 percent of its range over the past 20 years.
They say the fish's habitat has been lost and degraded due to water withdrawal, logging, overgrazing, development and erosion.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.