• Size

    Reaches a maximum size of 7 inches (18 cm), but lengths closer to 4 inches (10 cm) are more common.
  • Diet

    Diet consists of small planktonic prey including larvae, eggs and very small crustaceans.
  • Range

    Occurs in the Western Atlantic from southeastern Florida and the Gulf of Mexico south to Brazil, throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean.
  • Habitat

    Found in marine and even brackish waters, in lagoons and estuaries, often near coral and rocky reef systems.

Physical Characteristics

  • False pilchard reaches a maximum size of 7 inches (18 cm), but lengths closer to 4 inches (10 cm) are more common.
  • Small, bright, reflective silver fish. Dorsal surface displays a dark or dull greenish tinge. The face is blunt, with a small mouth and large eyes.
  • This species displays a faint, pale orange or gold dot on the operculum (gill cover).

Diet / Feeding

  • Feeds on small planktonic prey including larvae, eggs and very small crustaceans.

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in the Western Atlantic from southeastern Florida and the Gulf of Mexico south to Brazil, throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean.
  • Found in marine and even brackish waters, in lagoons and estuaries, often near coral and rocky reef systems.
  • Usually found at depths of 1 to about 164 feet (1 to 50 m).

Additional Information

  • False pilchards are also named false herring
  • This species is often encountered in large schools that can move very rapidly and condense to form tight clusters to avoid predators. Schooling behavior reduces the probability of being singled out as prey.
  • False pilchards spawn offshore, from February to July (note: this study was conducted near Miami, Florida, and spawning season may vary across the rest of the clupeola range.)
  • Common predators include barracuda, jacks and fish-eating seabirds.
  • Can comfortably tolerate a range of salinities, sometimes ranging far into estuaries and salt marsh systems.

Sources

www.fishbase.org

Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce https://naturalhistory2.si.edu/smsfp/irlspec/Hareng_clupeo.htm

www.IUCNredlist.org

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