Low-head dams in arid regions restrict fish movement and create novel habitats that have complex effects on fish assemblages. The influence of low-head dams and artificial wetlands on fishes in Muddy Creek, a tributary of the Colorado River system in the USA was examined. Upstream, fish assemblages were dominated by native species including two species of conservation concern, bluehead sucker, Catostomus discobolus Cope, and roundtail chub, Gila robusta Baird and Girard. The artificial wetlands contained almost exclusively non-native fathead minnow, Pimephales promelas Rafinesque, and white sucker, Catostomus commersonii (Lacep??de). Downstream, fish assemblages were dominated by non-native species. Upstream spawning migrations by non-native white suckers were blocked by dams associated with the wetlands. However, the wetlands do not provide habitat for native fishes and likely inhibit fish movement. The wetlands appear to be a source habitat for non-native fishes and a sink habitat for native fishes. Two non-native species, sand shiner, Notropis stramineus (Cope), and redside shiner, Richardsonius balteatus (Richardson), were present only downstream of the wetlands, suggesting a beneficial role of the wetlands in preventing upstream colonisation by non-native fishes. ?? 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.